While travelling from “Ask for Zinc - A to Zinc in our Lives”, there also falls one letter 'S', denoting Silver. A market that is dominated majorly by imports in India with Hindustan Zinc as the only primary Silver producer in India with over 95% market share in production.
Who knew, the lines that we see on the rear windscreen of cars, which are used for defrosting and defogging, are made from Silver. Surprisingly, in the United States, an alloy can only be called Silver if it has at least 90% Pure Silver.  Who knew that Silver has its origin from a Sanskrit word, later derived from Latin  ARGUNAS, meaning Shining.
Globally, the highest usage of Silver is Industrial Fabrication (51%), followed by Coins and Bars (25%), Jewellery (19%) and Silverware (5%). In India, the highest usage of Silver is Coins and Bars (37%), followed by Jewellery (30%), Silverware (17%) and Industrial Fabrication (16%).
Used in conjunction with almost every common industry, Silver makes itself practically indispensable.
Hindustan Zinc is aiming to produce 1000 tonnes of Silver from current level of about 500 tonnes annually. The company proposes to capture 10% of the Silver consumption market in India from the current level of just about 5%.

Silver is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for Silver, 'Siolfor,' which itself comes from ancient Germanic 'Silabar'. Silver's chemical symbol (Ag) is an abbreviation of the Latin word for Silver, 'Argentum'. The Latin word originates from Argunas, a Sanskrit word meaning shining.
One of the most precious ancient metals to have roots in Zinc, Silver is believed to be discovered around 5000 BC. While Silver objects have been found dating back before 4000 BC, mankind learned to separate Silver from Lead in 3000 BC. Around 700 B.C. early Mediterranean civilizations were using the brilliant white metal as currency.
Gold was considered to be the skin of the ancient Egyptian gods, but their bones were thought to be of Silver. In ancient Egypt, Silver was considered much more valuable than Gold. It was rare in existence and on the list of valuables. Items of Silver were listed above those of Gold during the Old Kingdom.
The mining of Silver began between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago in Anatolia, or what is now Turkey. One of the first five metals to be discovered by the mankind. Over the next several centuries, the epicentre of Silver mining shifted from Greece to Spain to Germany to Eastern Europe.

There have been many ways of extraction of Silver through smelting process.  One of them has been the Parkes Process, a pyro metallurgical industrial process for removing Silver from Lead during the production of bullion. It is an example of liquid-liquid extraction.
Parkes process (patented in 1850), involves adding Zinc to Lead and melting the two together. When stirred, the molten Zinc reacts and forms compounds with any Silver and Gold present in the Lead. These Zinc compounds are lighter than the Lead and, on cooling, form a crust that can be readily removed.
The process takes advantage of two liquid-state properties of Zinc - the First is that Zinc is immiscible with Lead and the Second that Silver is 3000 times more soluble in Zinc than it is in Lead.
When Zinc is added to liquid Lead that contains Silver as a contaminant, the Silver preferentially migrates into the Zinc. Since Zinc is immiscible in Lead, it remains in a separate layer and is easily removed. The Zinc-Silver solution is then heated until the Zinc vaporizes, leaving nearly pure Silver. If Gold is present in the liquid Lead, it can also be removed and isolated by the same process.

Silver's industrial role is much more than that of Gold and it is for this reason that a shortage of Silver has always had higher negative implications than there would be if there was a shortage of Gold.
Silver has the highest electrical conductivity amongst all the metals, which is why it is used as an alloyed form for electrical contacts. Satellites, lasers, high-tech weaponry, robotics, telecommunications, all need Silver. Conductors, contracts, switches and fuses need Silver too because of its non-corroding or non-overheating properties.
Engine bearings rely on Silver. The strongest bearing is made from steel and is electroplated with Silver. Silver's high melting point allows it to withstand the high temperature of engines and Silver's lubricant-like features help reduce friction between a ball bearing and its housing. Due to Silver's ability to absorb oxygen, it is being researched as a possible substitute for platinum to catalyse oxidation of matter collected in diesel engine filters. The other industrial applications of Silver electroplating include use in electrical parts and components like Copper connectors and Brass connectors.

If we add the amount of Solar Energy that is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, land and oceans every year, we end up with approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules or 10^18 joules). To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equivalent to  :  2.7 million earthquakes of the same size as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan (2011) - 40,000 times the total energy consumption in the United States - 8,000 times the total consumption in the whole world -  40% of the energy that is required to heat the entire volume of water we have on Earth by 1°Celsius. Every square meter of our planet receives around 1,366 watts of direct Solar radiation.
In America, one solar panel system is installed every four minutes. NASA is currently working on a Solar-powered aircraft.
Silver is a unique metal. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, and it's the most reflective. These physical properties make Silver a highly valued industrial metal, especially when used in Solar cells.
Industry estimates that 40 tonnes of Silver is required to produce panels that would generate 1 GW of Solar Power. With this industry (solar) virtually non-existent 10 years ago, Silver demand in the Solar industry is growing at a fast clip as an alternate form of Energy source in India.
Silver is a primary ingredient in photovoltaic cells, and 90% of crystalline Silicon photovoltaic cells use Silver paste. When sunlight hits the silicon cell it generates electrons. The Silver used in the cell works as a conductor to collect these electrons in order to form a useful electric current. The Silver then transports the electricity out of the cell so it can be used. Further, the conductive nature of Silver enhances the reflection of the sunlight to improve the Energy that is collected. Therefore, if it wasn't for Silver, Solar wouldn't be as efficient in turning sunlight into Energy.
India is currently 100% importer of Solar parts where Silver is used, the major countries from where it is being imported are China and Japan. Taking forward the vision of our Prime Minister to produce 50 GW of Solar Energy, and producing Solar parts, Indian consumption of Silver will be all set to increase by about 2000 tonnes. This would also create large ancillary industries and ample employment opportunities.
California is home to the largest Solar Power Plant in the world, located in the Mojave Desert. It spans 1,000 acres. California also dominates the Solar Power market, with a market share of 44% in 2015. California, Arizona, and North Carolina are the top three US states for Solar power, based on the amount of cumulative Solar electric capacity installed. There are now nine states in the U.S. where 100% of new electrical energy comes from Solar Power.
As it turns out, Solar Energy wouldn't work the same way if it wasn't for Silver.

Hippocrates, "The Father of Medicine", knew of Silver's healing and anti-disease properties. In World War I, before the widespread use of antibiotics, it was imperative on the battlefield. Silver foil was wrapped around wounds to help them heal.
Silver, a germicidal, kills bacteria and other lower organisms. Silver ions act as a catalyst by absorbing oxygen, which kills bacteria by interfering with their respiration. This antibiotic property, along with its non-toxicity, has given Silver an essential role in medicine for thousands of years.
In medicine, Silver is incorporated into wound dressings to treat external infections and also used as an antibiotic coating in medical devices. It is also used in some medical applications, such as urinary catheters (where tentative evidence indicates it reduces catheter-related urinary tract infections) and in endotracheal breathing tubes (where evidence suggests it reduces ventilator-associated pneumonia). The Silver ion (Ag+) is bio-active and in sufficient concentration readily kills bacteria in vitro. Silver is also used in other medical instruments and is a key part of the technology behind X-rays. It has also been used in eye drops and in dental hygiene to cure and prevent infection. Silver Sulfadiazine is especially useful for burn victims because it kills bacteria while also allowing the skin to regrow. Silver ion treatments can heal bone infections and allow regeneration of damaged tissue.
Today, the presence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs increases the demand for Silver in hospitals. Small amounts of Silver can coat hospital surfaces and medical equipment to prevent the spread of pathogens.
Silver and Silver nanoparticles are also used as an antimicrobial in a variety of industrial, healthcare, and domestic applications.

As per Indian Minerals Yearbook, published by Indian Bureau of Mines, India is the biggest importer and largest consumer of Silver in the world. Considering the current pattern of utilisation of Silver in the country and the anticipated increase in the GDP, the future demand for Silver is likely to exceed 6,000 tonnes per annum by 2017 as per the report of the Working Group on Mineral Exploration and Development (Other than Coal & Lignite) for the XII Five Year Plan (2012-2017). There is a need for intensifying the exploration for identification of more Silver bearing resources from which Silver is recovered as a by-product.
Silver growth is only likely to increase in India in the coming years since India is growing very aggressively in the areas of Make in India, Digital India and Solar Energy. As compared to the world, India has been slow towards utilization of silver for industrial usage with mere 16%, as compared to global usage of 51%. Though we are growing in terms of utilization of Silver in jewelry and Silver-ware, the real boost will come with Digital India and development of domestic solar energy market where Silver will be used.

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