TSX-V : GFN
The Silver Market
The Silver Market - Facts
Monetary Metal - Until the late 19th century most nations were on a silver standard with silver coins forming the main circulating currency - silver being in greater supply and of less value than gold, thus being more practical for everyday payments. As gold became more plentiful, however, silver was slowly replaced although it is still used in some circulating coins as well as in bullion coins for investors. In the U.S., silver is used only in bullion, commemorative and proof coins. Mexico is the only country currently using silver in it's circulating coinage. During the past decade, the United States, Canada and Mexico began issuing pure silver bullion coins with nominal face values sold at a small premium over their bullion value (not their face value).
In 1982, Mexico began minting a 999-fine (99.9% pure) silver Libertad ranging in weight from 1/20 oz. to 5 ounces; over 20 million coins have been sold. The U.S. Mint issues a 999-fine Silver Eagle (a one ounce bullion coin with a face value of $1) bullion coin; over 100 million have been sold since 1986. The Royal Canadian Mint issues a 5 dollar 9999-fine silver bullion coin, the silver Maple Leaf; over 11.8 million have been sold since 1988. Australia has issued a 5-dollar, 1 ounce .999 fine silver bullion coin, the Kookaburra; over 8 million have been sold since 1990.
Jewellery and Silverware - Sterling silver contains 92.5 percent silver. It is commonly alloyed with gold or copper for manufacture of stunning jewellery and silverware. Silver can be buffed to a higher polish than any other metal, a quality highlighted in mirrors and reflective coatings on glass, cellophane and metals. Silver's superior ductility and reflective luster make it a better metal for jewelry than the more brittle and duller gray finish of platinum -- it is also much less expensive.
Electronics - Every time a home owner turns on a microwave oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, or television set, the action activates a switch with silver contacts that completes the required electrical circuit.
The majority of the keyboards of desk-top and lap-top computers use silver membrane switches. These are found behind the buttons of control panels for cable television, telephones, microwave ovens, learning toys like touch and tell or speak and spell, and the keyboards of typewriters and computers. The low-current capacity of the membrane switch matches the low electrical current used for digital electronics. In an office environment, membrane switches are normally rated for a life of 20 million cycles. Typically, the membrane switch is made of a conductive ink of silver flakes in a polyester binder with carbon. This thick film is then silk-screened in an electrical circuit pattern onto each of two Mylar sheets. The two surface patterns of silver face each other close enough so that gentle touch by a finger will make the electrical contact. A latching transistor circuit is simultaneously activated to keep the circuit closed after the membrane is released.
Giant magnetoresistance is a newly discovered magnetic property of multiple layered silver/nickel-iron alloy films, each about a millionth of an inch thick. These films are being exploited by computer hard drive manufacturers. The films are potential candidates for the next generation of read-out heads for personal computer storage systems.
Electrical - Silver is the best electrical conductor of all metals and is hence used in many electrical applications, particularly in conductors, switches, contacts and fuses. Contacts, a junction between two conductors that can be separated and through which a current can flow, account for the largest proportion of electrical demand.
From the very beginning of electricity, silver has been the metal of choice for switch contacts because of its low contact resistance, high thermal conductivity, mechanical wear resistance, chemical stability (it does not corrode), low polymer formation (the build-up of an insulating carbon-polymer film over the contact as a consequence of arcing), and cost-effectiveness (it provides the longest functional life).
Over 50 categories of electrical components incorporating silver as the contact material are listed by The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C. These range from silver thick films that are used to make membrane switches which carry 5 volts or less for electronic systems, to large circuit breaker contacts required to interrupt or close the circuits of 75,000-volt power distribution lines.
The use of silver for motor control switches is universal. In the home, wall switches, timing devices, thermostats, sump pumps, and virtually all electrical appliances use silver contacts. A typical washing machine requires 16 silver contacts to control its electric motor, pump, and gear clutch. A fully-equipped automobile may have over 40 silver-tipped switches to start the engine, activate power steering, brakes, windows, mirrors, locks, and other electrical accessories.
Batteries - The Silver Polymer Battery utilizes divalent silver oxide to achieve very high energy and power, yielding up to twice the energy to volume of current lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries.
The gravimetric storage density for Silver Polymer Batteries is about the same as lithium ion batteries, but the volumetric energy density is much greater, because the materials are far denser than those in lithium batteries. Their standard cells can be recharged only about 100 times, which doesn't sound all that wonderful at all, but supposedly compares well with lead acid. A 12V 15Ah battery made from 8 silver polymer cells would weigh 1.4kg - supposedly a quarter of what a similar spec lead acid battery weighs. However, the Silver Polymer Battery has "only" 80 amps peak, probably costs several tens as times as much, and has very fussy recharging requirements.
The Silver Polymer Battery has the following advantages:
- Up to ten times the energy to weight ratio of current lead acid designs and up to four times the energy to weight ratio of NiMH designs.
- No memory and low self discharge.
- Tunable price/performance from low cost to maximum performance preference.
- Dramatically safer than large lithium batteries which are now subject to severe transportation limitations.