The World Silver Survey 2022, released by the Silver Institute yesterday, noted that the global silver market achieved growth across all demand categories in 2021, marking the first time that all key sectors have grown in tandem since 1997. Exceeding pre-pandemic volumes, total global silver demand hit its highest level since 2015, jumping 19% to 1.05 billion ounces (Boz) last year. Leading the way, silver usage in industrial applications hit a record high, rising 9% to 508.2 million ounces (Moz).
Physical silver investment (sales of silver coins and bars) jumped 36% to 278.7 Moz, its highest level since 2015, as retail investors in North America and Europe, driven by safe havens and inflationary concerns, have benefited from the periodic decline in silver prices. to buy coins and bars. The silver market saw its first shortfall since 2015 at 51.8 Moz, its biggest shortage since 2010.
All categories of silver demand strengthened last year, bringing the annual total to 1.05 Boz, an impressive 19% gain over 2020. Industrial manufacturing rose 9% to 508.2 Moz despite global logistical challenges. Silver use in photovoltaics increased 13% to 113.7 Moz with the growth of global solar installations, while overall electronics and electrical demand rose 9% to 330 Moz.
Silver usage in photography increased by 3% in 2021 to 28.7 Moz, bucking the long-term trend of decline. Last year, part of the recovery in demand came from the medical sector, which struggled to solve the backlog of delayed x-rays that built up when hospitals were overwhelmed by COVID.
Silver jewelry manufacturing jumped 21% in 2021 to 181.4 Moz. In addition to the surge in consumption, manufacturers also benefited from the restocking of inventories, which had fallen in 2020. India led the way in demand for silver jewelry, which jumped 45% to 58.7Moz. After a somewhat disappointing 2020, silverware demand recovered by 32% in 2021 to 42.7 Moz. India leads the world in buying silverware at 24.4 Moz, followed by Nepal at 4.8 Moz and China at 2.7 Moz.
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