The period from 1876 to 1920 represented an explosion in both technological innovation and exploitation of new regions worldwide. Production over the last quarter of the 19th century quadrupled over the average of the first 75 years to a total of nearly 120 million troy ounces annually.
A good deal of the new production was added from major new discoveries in the United States, most notably the Comstock Lode area in Nevada, the Leadville district in Colorado and various districts in Utah.
Similarly, new discoveries in Australia, Central America and Europe greatly augmented total world production. The succeeding decades from 1900 to 1920 resulted in another 50 percent expansion in production to about 190 million troy ounces annually. These increases were spurred by discoveries in Canada, the United States, Africa, Mexico, Chile, Japan, and various other countries.
The explosion of technology that enabled steam-assisted drilling, mining, mine dewatering, and improved haulage was a major breakthrough. Further improvements in mining techniques enhanced the ability to handle ore and allowed the exploitation of larger volumes of ore that contained silver. For example, the removal of precious metals from zinc by a technique called "fuming" provided a way to separate economically precious metals from moderate-grade complex ores.Copyright © 2004 The Silver Institute - All Rights Reserved Top of the Page - Silver History America