Silver has traditionally served as a medium of exchange,
much like gold. Silver's strength, malleability, ductility, thermal
and electrical conductivity, sensitivity to light and ability to
endure extreme changes in temperature combine to make it a widely
used industrial metal. While silver continues to be used as a form
of investment and a financial asset, the principal uses of silver
are industrial, primarily in electrical and electronic components,
photography, jewelry, silverware, batteries, computer chips, electrical
contacts and high technology printing. Silver's anti-bacterial properties
also make it valuable for use in medicine and in water purification.
Additionally, new uses of silver are being developed in connection
with the use of superconductive wire.
Most silver production is obtained from mining operations
where silver is not the principal or primary product. Approximately
80% of mined silver is produced as a by-product of mining lead, zinc,
gold or copper deposits.