Silver Investment Demand Explosion and Other Silver News
Silver investment demand surged in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the feature story in the most recent edition of the Silver Institute’s Silver News.
Holdings in silver-backed ETFs tripled last year, surpassing 1 billion ounces for the first time. Meanwhile, investment in physical silver also saw a healthy increase. Silver coin and silver bar purchases grew 8% to 200.5 million ounces in 2020.
Strong investment demand wasn’t enough to offset tanking industrial demand. Overall silver demand fell by 10% during the year. Nevertheless, the average annual silver price was up 27% from 2019, and we saw signs of recovery in the industrial sector late in the year.
The effects on silver demand from the pandemic weren’t universal. While India was down 29%, and Europe and China each were 8% lower, modest overall gains in demand were seen in North America and Taiwan at plus 2% each, followed by a 1% increase in Japan. Demand for silver in the solar energy sector grew 2% to 101 million ounces last year.
Silver supply dipped in 2020, led by global mine production registering its fourth consecutive annual decline, its most significant drop of the last decade.
According to the Silver Institute report, the outlook for 2021 indicates that all segments of silver demand are expected to rise, offsetting the projected increase in mine production and silver scrap supply.
The latest edition of Silver News also highlights some other fascinating technological advances utilizing the white metal along with some developments in the silver market. Here are some highlights.
- Silver has facilitated a breakthrough in flexible body sensors. “Hydrogel” is a soft, flexible, lightweight and stretchable material that fits the contours of the body. It can be made electrically conductive when infused with silver particles. This could lead to more accurate sensors for heart monitoring and other medical applications.
- How about a pen that never runs out of ink? Inventors of the ForeverPen make their writing instrument tip from a silver composite that, instead of leaving behind ink, or, in the case of a pencil, graphite, the ForeverPen oxidizes the writing surface and leaves a mark. The developers, who are seeking backers on Kickstarter, say that the pen never runs out of its ability to write; in essence, it will write forever.
- Silver may be able to help cut COVID-19 testing time while maintaining high accuracy.
- A multinational group of scientists has developed a flexible film based on silver nanoparticles that can be used to detect pesticides on agricultural products in minutes. It can even be used to identify pesticides on fruits and vegetables using a handheld device at the point of sale, such as in supermarkets.