Last year we released a survey of India and Silver that covered supply and demand in that country. We noted that silver was India’s second metal to gold. Since we produced that report, Indian silver imports surged in 2015 then plummeted in 2016.
Silver imports were negatively impacted by a nationwide jewelry strike began as a protest against the Indian government’s institution of a sales tax on gold. Higher silver prices have also slowed Indian silver imports. Reports for February 2017 indicate Indian jewelers are restocking their gold inventories at a rapid rate. We suspect they did the same for their silver inventories in February.
Indian gold imports have also been adversely impacted by the above-referenced factors. Gold imports in November however spiked to their highest levels since January 2016 but were cut by more than half in December.
Indian gold imports were down 39% in 2016.
Annual Indian Silver Imports 1999 – 2017
Indian Silver imports in 2016 were approximately 114,006,548 ounces, or about 30 million ounces more than the amount of silver used by the U.S. Mint to produce a record 47 million American Silver Eagle coins in 2015 and the silver used to produced all of the American Silver Eagles minted through December 2016 (37,701,500)
Indian Silver Imports vs. Global Silver Mining Production
Silver miners increased production in 2015.* Their efforts however, were not enough to meet demand, much of the increased demand coming from India (the other from sovereign mint coin and privately minted silver bar and round demand).
Mexico’s silver mining production in 2015 was 189.5 million ounces up 1.7% from 2015. Peru’s silver mining production increased 10.6% in 2015 to 135.9 million ounces.
The top two silver mining countries, Mexico and Peru increased their output in 2015.
Rounding out the top twenty silver mining countries in 2015 were (in order from 11-20) Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Canada, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey, Dominican Republic and Armenia.
To put India’s silver imports in context, the 8,506 tons of silver imported into India in 2015 or 273 million ounces is about a third of the approximately 870 million ounces of silver mined in the world in 2015. While India imports silver from various nations, the 273 million ounces imported in 2015 is the equivalent of the entire production of Mexico, the world’s leading silver mining country, AND the entire output of the fourth largest silver mining country, Australia.
China is the third largest silver mining country in the world and retains nearly all of their mining production. Therefore, the total global silver mining supply available to India and the rest of the word is not the 870 million ounces global mining supply estimate of the Silver Institute, but something closer to 750 million ounces.
Indian Silver Imports vs. American Silver Eagle Coin Sales
Through the first three quarters of 2016, the United States Mint has sold 34,250,500 one ounce American Silver Eagle coins In 2015 the U.S. Mint sold a recored 47,000,000 American Silver Eagles.
India’s silver demand requirements in 2015 strained global silver supply.
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