Phillips Baker, CEO of Hecla Mining and Chairman of the Silver Institute, the metal's most prominent industry trade group, recently made a presentation at the London Bullion Market Association Global Precious Metals conference in Spain.
The presentation focused on silver's expected role in the transition to green energy, but it included some interesting detail on the market in general.
According to the Institute's press release, "Delegates asked Mr. Baker whether we will have enough silver for the green transition. He replied in the affirmative, explaining that while the silver market is currently in a structural deficit, above-ground stocks of silver will be mobilized to meet the demand."
He added, however, that "there are no new significant silver deposit discoveries at present, and that geopolitical issues and mine permitting delays continue to be encumbrances to bringing new sources of mined silver supply to market."
According to the 2023 World Silver Survey, demand outstripped supply in 2022 by nearly 238 million ounces – "possibly the most significant deficit on record." Supply was about 20% short of what was needed to maintain equilibrium.
Silver demand rose in nearly all categories
Meanwhile mine output fell versus the prior year – confirming what the Hecla CEO said about the difficulties miners face in bringing new production online.
It is getting harder to find high grade deposits, and it is more difficult and expensive to develop and operate a mine.