(Kitco News) – Some primary silver producers are no doubt feeling pain these days after the sell-off in silver prices so far this year, but don’t look for major supply cutbacks any time soon, analysts said.
That’s because it costs so much to shut down and restart mines that companies will put up with a loss on operations for an extended time before doing anything as drastic as mine closures, they explained. Further, companies have become leaner in recent years, thus some of the major producers – such as Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ, TSX: PAAS) — likely are still profitable at current prices, they added.
“I don’t think this move lower here will have an effect on mining supply,” said Ryan McKay, commodity strategist at TD Securities. Comex September silver fell as far as $14.315 an ounce on Thursday, the lowest level since early 2016. At this juncture, prices are down 19% from the early-2018 high.
The majority of the word’s silver is mined as a by-product of other metals, such as copper, lead, gold and zinc, analysts reported. Therefore, those producers are more focused on the prices of metals other than silver. However, around a quarter to a third of the silver comes from primary silver producers, analysts reported.
On the basis of cash costs alone, the majority of the industry is above water, most analysts said. But that can change when factoring in costs such exploration, sustaining capital and more, said Randy Smallwood, president and chief executive officer of Wheaton Precious Metals.
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