Top 10: Silver Mining Companies

With the rise of solar energy driving demand for silver amid supply constraints, we take a look at the world's top silver mining companies

With its distinctive lustre, silver is not only sought after as a precious metal for jewellery, but also has properties that are valuable to many industries. 

It is highly malleable and ductile (meaning it can easily be formed into wire). Crucially, it has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all the metals. This means that it is used heavily in electronics, for solar panels, and in batteries. 

It is the rise of solar energy that is the main driver of the rising demand for silver. For this silver is used in powder form. This is turned into a paste, which is loaded onto silicon wafer contained in the photovoltaic cells of solar panels. When light strikes the silicon, electrons are freed and the silver – the world’s best conductor – carries the electricity for immediate use or stores it in batteries.

Mexico is the world's largest silver-producing nation, with Peru, China, Australia, and Chile also leading producers. India, the US and Germany are the top three importers of silver, with Mexico, Peru, and Canada the dominant exporters.

Currently there are serious constraints on global supplies of silver, which is mined primarily as a by-product of other metals, such as copper and zinc; primary silver mines contribute relatively little to global supply. A combination of dwindling ore grades and increasing extraction costs – mainly from energy consumption – are restricting the growth of silver production.

The following are the world's biggest miners of silver, by revenue.

01 Industrias Penoles SAB de CV (IPOAF)

Revenue: $5.6 billion
Country: Mexico
A towering presence in Mexico's mining sector, Industrias Penoles SAB de CV explores, mines, and manufactures an array of non-ferrous mineral products, including gold, silver, zinc, and lead. With a workforce exceeding 20,000, it harnesses cutting-edge technologies to optimise productivity and efficiency. It is publicly traded and yet family-controlled, and has been in operation for more than  70 years. 

02 Polymetal International (AUCOY)

Revenue: $2.7 billion
Country: Kazakhstan
Polymetal International is a precious metals mining company. Headquartered in Cyprus, it has operations across Russia and Kazakhstan. It has a portfolio of nine mines and employs around 12,000 workers. It produces silver (and gold) in concentrate and doré forms. (A doré is a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver.)  Polymetal was founded in 1998. 

03 Fresnillo

Revenue: $2.50 billion
Country: Mexico

Mexico-based Fresnillo is a precious metals mining company that operates three mines in the country: Fresnillo, Saucito and Cienegas. Fresnillo is its largest, producing 675,960 tonnes of ore in 2022. The company uses advanced technologies including underground communication systems and automated hauling trucks. Employing 15,000 people, its primary products are gold and silver, along with lead and zinc by-products. 

04 Pan American Silver 

Revenue: $1.5 billion
Country: Canada
Pan American Silver has a payroll of around 7,500 people, and its largest operation is the La Colorada mine in Mexico. The company uses modern mining methods and technologies such as automated drilling and blasting. In 2022, Pan American processed 28.3 million tonnes of ore containing silver, gold, zinc, lead and copper. It owns and operates mines across Mexico, Peru, Canada, Argentina and Bolivia.

05 Wheaton Precious Metals 

Revenue: $1.1 billion
Country: Canada
A precious metals streaming company, Wheaton Precious Metals does not directly mine minerals, nor does it own mines. Instead, Wheaton provides upfront payments to miners for the right to purchase future metal production. The company has agreements with 23 operating mines and nine development-stage projects. Its largest streaming agreement is with the Salobo mine in Brazil. 

06 Buenaventura Mining 

Revenue: $831.2 million
Country: Peru
Buenaventura Mining employs 5,700 people, and its largest operation is the Uchucchacua mine in Peru. In 2022, Buenaventura produced around 11.5 million ounces of silver, along with gold, lead and zinc concentrates. It owns direct and indirect interests in several other operating mines across Peru. The company is focused on precious and base metals mining, exploration and processing activities, and uses advanced safety and environmental management systems.

07 Coeur Mining 

Revenue: $783.4 million
Country: US
The precious metals company Coeur Mining operates mines in North America. It employs around 1,900 workers. The Palmarejo mine in Mexico is its largest, producing both silver and gold. Coeur uses underground and open-pit mining methods, along with modern mineral processing technologies at its sites. In 2022, the company's operations produced approximately 12.7 million ounces of silver and 207,000 ounces of gold from 9.4 million tonnes of ore processed. It has a strong exploration pipeline, to discover new precious metal resources. 

08 Fortuna Silver Mines

Revenue: $715.7 million
Country: Canada
In 2022, Fortuna's mines processed around 3.8 million tonnes of ore, yielding 6.6 million ounces of silver and 194,000 ounces of gold. It focuses on tailings management systems and water recycling initiatives at sites. (Tailings management concerns engineering projects that comply with safety and environmental control requirements.) The company employs 1,700 people across its operations, and its largest mine is San Jose in Mexico, which produces silver and gold. The company uses underground mining methods, and has on-site mineral processing facilities. 

09 Hecla Mining 

Revenue: $709.2 million
Country: US
Hecla Mining employs approximately 1,675 people across its operations. The Greens Creek mine, located in Alaska, is its largest operation, producing not just silver but also gold, zinc and lead. In 2022, Hecla processed around 2.2 million tons yielding 12.6 million ounces of silver and 201,968 ounces of gold. It uses bulk-mining techniques and dry-stack tailings management systems. (Tailings are the left-over materials from the processing of mined ore.) 

10 First Majestic Silver 

Revenue: $684.1 million
Country: Canada
Canada-based First Majestic Silver operates silver mines in Mexico and the US, and employs 4,900 people. The Jerritt Canyon mine in Nevada is its largest, producing gold as well as silver. In 2022, it processed around 3.4 million tonnes of ore, producing 11.7 million ounces of silver and 213,662 ounces of gold. An innovative company, it uses automated drilling and backfill systems, and prioritises environmental management and community development initiatives near its mines. 


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