The United States, which put out 32.6 million ounces of silver in 2012, is the world’s ninth-largest producer of the white metal, according to the Silver Institute.
Much of the nation’s silver production comes from Alaska and Idaho, and it is often mined from veins that contain other minerals. As a result, many of the top silver producers in the US are not exclusively concerned with silver, and many more are involved in exploration and development in addition to production.
Here’s a look three companies that, despite operating in various other parts of the world, are also three of the largest primary silver producers in the US.
Coeur Mining (TSX:CDM,NYSE:CDE)
Coeur Mining, formerly Coeur d’Alene Mines, describes itself as the largest US-based primary silver producer. It has projects in the US, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina and Australia. Its mines in the US are Alaska’s Kensington mine, which produces gold, and the Nevada-based Rochester mine, which produces both gold and silver. Rochester is a surface mine that is made up of the main Rochester deposit and the nearby Nevada Packard deposit. It produced 2.8 million ounces of silver in 2012, and in 2013, Coeur expects it to produce 4.5 to 4.9 million ounces of silver.
Coeur Mining produced a total of 18 million ounces of silver in 2012, placing it ninth on the Silver Institute’s list of the world’s top 20 silver producers.
US Silver & Gold (TSX:USA)
US Silver & Gold produces silver, copper and lead and, according to its website, is the second-largest primary silver producer in the US. Its operations are in Shoshone County, Idaho, near where the state shares a border with Montana. The company’s Galena mine includes silver, as well as copper and lead, and has reserves of 23.2 million ounces. The entire Galena Complex has produced more than 220 million ounces of silver since modern mining began in 1953.
The company produced 2.3 million ounces of silver in 2012 and expects to increase its silver production by 10 percent in 2013, according to its annual report. Aside from Galena, US Silver & Gold’s other key asset is the Montana-based Drumlummon mine, which has historic production of 1 million gold-equivalent ounces.
Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL)
Hecla Mining discovers, acquires, develops, produces and markets silver, gold, lead and zinc. Established in 1891, it is the oldest precious metals mining company in North America, its website notes.
The company has several operations, including a gold mine in Canada, a silver-, lead- and zinc-producing mine in Idaho and the Greens Creek silver mine in Alaska. It produces unrefined silver bullion bars at Greens Creek, selling them directly to customers or refining them further for sale to precious metals traders. Hecla recently acquired a stake in Brixton Metals (TSXV:BBB), as well as the entirety of Aurizon Mines.
Greens Creek was the 10th leading primary silver-producing mine in 2012, having produced 6.39 million ounces of silver. The company as a whole produced 9.5 million ounces of silver in 2011.