Posted: ’22-SEP-06 07:00′ GMT – – Archive

Although gold garners the lion’s share of the headlines, a visit to this year’s Silver Summit leaves little doubt that the “poor man’s gold” is increasingly gaining favour with institutional investors, hedge funds, and a young generation of retail investors.

Basically, the conference is packed, not simply with the growing number of junior exploration companies now looking for silver, but also with throngs of new investors and miners from several continents. For the handful of primary silver miners who treaded water during the tough times of the past two decades, the growing ranks of silver explorationists mean a brighter future of new deposits and projects for the major miners.

As Jeff Christian, founder of the CPM commodities research group, told delegates Thursday, it is now “one of the most interesting times in history” with more money available for investment than at any other time in recent memory.

Christian believes that an “unstoppable momentum” now exists in silver prices, the impetus of which could survive a drop as low as $6 per ounce to stop it. Thanks to rising metals prices and metals shortage, investors and mining companies are expanding current projects and resurrecting dormant mines.

However, like other metals, silver’s forward motion is being slowed by the dearth of low-cost silver properties, the legacy of the long years when few invested in silver exploration. Although more money to fund silver exploration is now obtainable from both private sources and institutional investors, silver explorers still have to compete with their gold and base metal counterparts for drill rigs and other equipment, consulting services, and experienced exploration geologists. There is also a lack of miners to staff the new and resurrected silver mines.

Only a few years old, the Silver Summit has already become a staple of Idaho’s Silver Valley, including Coeur d’Alene, which calls itself “the center of the universe.”

While the ranks of silver miners and explorationists are still too small to attract the robust financial investments now going to commodities and gold, the growing ranks of institutional investors attracted to silver definitely help silver mining stocks, according to long-time industry experts.

Silver gaining respect and attention

The Silver Summit may not have yet achieved the do-not-miss status of a Denver Gold Forum, which begins next week. Attendance by precious metals analysts and institutional investors is still optional. Nevertheless, their presence at silver’s only major U.S. event is clearly growing. Finally, silver has gained the respectability and attention that it clearly deserves for its value both as a precious and industrial metal with applications vital to nearly everyone.

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