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Silver News: Mine Production Falls for First Time in 14 Years; New Technological Breakthroughs

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Silver mine production dropped in 2016 for the first time in 14 years.

The Silver Institute highlights the story in its June issue of Silver News, along with the latest technological advances utilizing the white metal.

Falling mine production was a factor in driving down the overall silver supply last year.

Global silver mine production in 2016 recorded its first decline since 2002. When added to declining silver scrap supply, which posted its
lowest level since 1996, and a contraction in producer hedging, total silver supply decreased by 32.6 million ounces in 2016.”

Declining silver production mirrors a similar phenomenon in gold mining.

Total silver mined in 2016 fell by 0.6% to 885.8 million ounces. Silver scrap supply fell to 139.7 million ounces in 2016, despite higher silver prices.

The June issue of Silver News also features some fascinating technological developments related to silver.

  • Engineers at the University of Minnesota have developed a 3-D printed sensory device using silver-silicone gel that can be printed on fingertips to increase their touch sensitivity. This could allow surgeons to have greater control over surgical procedures, offer bomb disposal experts increased ‘feel’ to better disarm explosive devices, and even give burn victims back their touch sensitivity.
  • University of Tokyo researchers have developed a mixture of silver powder, fluorine-containing rubber, fluorosurfactants (organic compounds that contain the carbon–fluorine atomic bond), and organic solvents that allow wire to stretch to five times its normal length. Scientists say the wire could increase the versatility and usability of wearables, and help robots move more like people.
  • Researchers in India are experimenting with combing graphene and silver to create a substance that may lead to stronger weapons against bacteria. Graphene is a single atom thick sheet of carbon atoms structured in a lattice. Its sharp edges can damage cell membranes. By combining the graphene derivate and silver nanoparticles — producing a nanocomposite — scientists believe that the graphene derivate cuts into the cell membrane while silver nanoparticles disrupt the bacteria’s respiratory and energy generating pathways.
  • Silver is often used as a chemical catalyst. Brown University researchers believe that a new catalytic process using the white metal that can spur four chemical processes in a sequence could be very useful in producing pharmaceuticals.
  • An unlikely mixture of crushed crab shells and silver particles may be a non-toxic way to kill mosquitoes that carry diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, Zika, and West Nile viruses without resorting to environmentally harmful or dangerous chemicals, according to a team from National Taiwan Ocean University.

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