Mining Silver in the US from 1800 to Present Day

May 23, 2023 Off By Shain

Silver and has been mined in the United States for centuries, but the industry really took off in the 1800s. In 1800, the US produced just over 1 million ounces of silver, but by 1850, production had increased to over 10 million ounces. The growth of silver mining was driven by the discovery of rich silver deposits in the western United States, particularly in Nevada and Colorado.

The Comstock Lode, located in Nevada, was one of the richest silver strikes in history. It produced over $2 billion worth of silver between 1859 and 1880. The Cripple Creek district in Colorado was another major silver producer, producing over $1 billion worth of silver between 1890 and 1920.

Silver Production

Silver reached its peak in the United States in the early 1900s. In 1900, the US produced over 50 million ounces of silver, making it the world’s leading silver producer. However, production began to decline in the early 1900s, due to a number of factors, including the depletion of high-grade ore deposits, the rise of new silver-producing countries, and the increasing use of silver substitutes.

Production continued to decline throughout the 20th century, and by 2000, the US produced just over 10 million ounces of silver. However, there has been some recent growth in the silver industry in the United States, due to the rising price of silver. In 2017, the US produced over 12 million ounces of silver, its highest production level in over 30 years.

Today, there are over 500 active silver mines in the United States. The largest silver-producing states are Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. Silver is used in a variety of products, including jewelry, coins, photography, and electronics. It is also used as an investment, and its price can be volatile.

Visit this interactive data map on claim names for mineral rights.

The future of mining in the United States is uncertain. The industry is facing a number of challenges, including the depletion of high-grade ore deposits, the rising cost of production, and the increasing use of silver substitutes. However, the rising price of silver could help to offset some of these challenges. If the price of silver remains high, it is possible that the silver industry in the United States could experience a resurgence in the coming years.

Environmental Impacts of Silver Mining

Silver mining can have a significant environmental impact. The most common environmental impacts of silver mining include:

  • Water pollution: Silver can pollute water supplies with heavy metals and other contaminants. This can contaminate drinking water, harm fish and other aquatic life, and make it difficult to use water for irrigation and other purposes.
  • Air pollution: Silver mining can release dust and other pollutants into the air. This can cause respiratory problems for people living near mines, and can also contribute to climate change.
  • Land disturbance: Silver mining can disturb large areas of land. This can lead to erosion, landslides, and other problems.
  • Deforestation: Silver mining can require the clearing of large areas of forest. This can destroy habitat for plants and animals, and can also contribute to climate change.

Social Impacts of Silver Mining

Silver mining can also have a significant social impact. The most common social impacts of silver mining include:

  • Labor abuses: Silver can be a dangerous and difficult job. Workers in the silver mining industry are often exposed to hazardous chemicals and conditions, and they may be paid low wages and have few benefits.
  • Human rights abuses: Silver mining can be a source of conflict and violence. In some cases, mining companies have been accused of using forced labor, displacing indigenous people, and engaging in other human rights abuses.
  • Community development: Silver can bring economic benefits to communities where it takes place. However, these benefits can often be outweighed by the negative impacts of mining.

Web Resources: Information and inspiration for this post was provided by Penny and


Silver mining is a complex industry with a significant environmental and social impact. It is important to weigh the benefits and risks of silver mining before making a decision about whether or not to support this industry.