Silver is one of the most precious and popular metals and has been used for years for jewellery and investments. Although this metal is less expensive than other metals, it is also rarely found and retains value quite well. We all know that metals are good conductors of electricity. This is why it is also used in solar panels, electrical circuit boards, electric vehicles, and network devices. Do you have any idea about silver mining and how it is done?
Most people don’t know about the process of silver mining and what steps are taken to mine natural silver. This guide tells us the methods used by experts for silver mining and refining to meet the demand of people across the world.
Nowadays, silver is produced from three major resources i.e. silver mining, as a by-product when mining other metals, and recycling old jewellery, chemicals, and photographic films.
Different Methods Used For Silver Mining
Silver is also found in the crust layer of Earth and mined using explosives or heavy machinery. Therefore, the first thing is identifying the ore containing silver that can be mined at a feasible cost. The next step is selecting the silver mining method depending on location, infrastructure, and the ore body’s nature.
Two ways are used for silver mining which includes:
- Open-pit mining: This is the most suitable method of mining where large amounts of lower-grade silver is found. Here it can be found near the surface of the ore body.
- Underground shaft mining: It is a great way of silver mining and producing high-grade silver vein ore.
Open-pit silver mining is safer than underground mining as a large volume of land is distributed across a wide area. Both methods use explosives or heavy machines to break the chunks of ore into easy pieces for transportation. These pieces are then crushed and refined to produce silver.
Crushing & Separating Chunks Of Mined Silver Ore
At this phase of silver mining, the big chunks of mined silver ores are crushed and broken down into small pieces. The process is continued until the ore is transformed into fine powder. After that separation of silver from ore or other metals like zinc, gold, etc., begins. Two different methods are used for separating silver. Both methods involve mixing silver ore powder with water to create a slurry which helps in easy separation.
- Floatation process: Chemicals are added to the slurry, due to which silver and lead water repel each other. With the help of air bubbles, silver and lead water make bubbles and are separated and dried. It is a commonly used method in separating metals obtained in silver mining.
- Tank leaching and Merill-Crowe process: Cyanide is added, which dissolves the silver in the slurry. The solids formed are transferred into a settling tank. Before adding zinc powder, the silver solution is deaerated, which is then passed from filter plates and pressed to collect zinc and silver precipitates.
After this, refining is used to separate silver from mixed metals. Two primary methods, including Electrolytic Refining (Copper) and Parkes Process (Lead), are used. Silver mining is not an easy task. This is why natural silver is found rarely. To get proper and pure silver, you should choose RPS Gold. They have been in the industry providing pure gold and silver for years.