A variety of advances in the early part of the last century allowed for increased production worldwide. This was critical, as many of the high-grade ores throughout the world had been largely depleted by the end of the 19th century. These advances included:
Bulk mining methods, both at the surface and underground, capable of handling large amounts of lower grade base-metal ores that contained by product silver.
Refinement of extraction techniques capable of separating various base-metal concentrates from ores.
Improved techniques in ore separation, notably froth flotation (post 1910) that allowed for separation of silver in lead, zinc, and copper concentrates.
Improvements in electrorefining techniques allowing for the easy separation of silver and other base metals from refinery slimes, thus providing an increasingly important source of silver.
The explosion in the production of these various base-metal sources throughout the 20th century led to an increasing output of silver-bearing residue and ultimately, refined silver.Copyright © 2004 The Silver Institute - All Rights Reserved Top of the Page - Silver History Modern