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The isotopes of silver

In the late 18th and early 19th century, before being able to silver-plate metal with the aid of electric current (electroplating), they produced utensils from Sheffield plate. This consisted of a layer of copper, which at the top and bottom was fused with a layer of silver. The stratification of the material was often hidden on the sides and corners. (e.g. with melted silver wire). The layers of silver on an old Sheffield plate are often considerably thicker than those found on objects that have been silvered in a modern way (electrolytic or galvanic).

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Isotopes
Two stable isotopes (107Ag and 109Ag) of silver occur in nature in approximately the same proportion. In addition, there are approximately 28 radioactive isotopes, including silver-103, which are known to have halving times ranging from a few hundred years to a few minutes.

Most stable isotopes
Iso RA (%) Half-life VV VE (MeV) VP

107Ag 51,839 stable with 60 neutrons

108Ag syn 418 y EV 2,027 108Pd

109Ag 48,161 stable with 62 neutrons

Chemistry

Silver is in the periodic table in the same group as copper. Just like copper, silver has the valences 1+ and 2+, in addition to metallic silver. In contrast to copper, which occurs as a standard divalent ion, the most common silver ion is the univalent form. The divalent form is only stable next to very strong oxydators, for example in silver(II)fluoride. In complexometry, silver is a metal that can bind two ligands, for example in AgCl2-.

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In analytical chemistry, silver in the form of silver nitrate is used in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of halides, in particular chloride.

Toxicology and safety
Metallic silver is not harmful, but many silver-containing compounds are toxic and can be carcinogenic. Some silver compounds can cause the disease argyrie which causes harmless but permanent grey or black spots on the skin.

Prevent
In nature, silver can be found unbound as well as in ores such as argentine, acanthite and chlorargyrite. It is also found in lead, zinc, copper, gold and copper-nickel ores.

In 2017, the mines supplied a total of 852 million troy ounces of silver. Mexico was the largest producer with 196.4 million ounces or almost a quarter of the global total. The country was followed by Peru, People’s Republic of China, and Russia. In Europe, Poland is the largest producer with 39.5 million ounces, which is 4.6% of global production, in 2017. The largest silver mining company is Fresnillo, a listed company with mines in Mexico.

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Country Production
in millions of ounces Share in global production:

Mexico 196.4 23.0%

Peru 147.5 17.3%

China 112.6 13.2%

Russia 42.0 4.9%

Chile 40.5 4.8%

In addition to mining, the recycling of old silver is important. Recycling covers approximately 25% of the annual demand for silver.

In the past, the discovery of silver could be the start of an outbreak of silver fever.

Silver price Fixing
In May 2014 it was announced that London Silver Market Fixing will stop on 14 August. The silver price has been set by this organisation for 117 years. Three banks are actively involved in setting the silver price. These are HSBC, Bank of Nova Scotia and Deutsche Bank. The silver fixing is a teleconference between the participating banks at which sellers and buyers give their orders and on the basis of which an equilibrium price is determined. Deutsche Bank has indicated that it wishes to withdraw and has not been able to find a replacement. An alternative is being sought to determine the price of silver.

On the international goods markets, the silver price is expressed in American dollars per troy ounce, i.e. 31.103476 grams. In the table below the price development of silver on the London Stock Exchange from 2003. The prices are annual averages and are in US dollars per troy ounce.

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