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India Silver Imports Have Already Topped 2023 Total

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India Silver Imports Have Already Topped 2023 Total

By Mike Maharrey, Money Metals Exchange

India imported more silver through the first four months of 2024 than it did in the entirety of last year.

Indian silver imports totaled 4,172 tons of silver from January through April. That compares with 455 tons during the same period in 2023. 

India imported 3,625 tons of silver last year.

India ranks as the world’s number one silver consumer. 

According to a Reuters report, rising demand from the solar panel industry and investor optimism that silver will outperform gold this year are driving a silver buying spree in India. 

Silver is already up 28 percent in rupee terms this year. That compares to a 14 percent increase in gold prices

“Silver prices haven’t done as well as gold in the past decade, but investors think it will do better than gold this year,” a Mumbai-based silver dealer told Reuters.

Silver has historically outperformed gold in a gold bull market. This has proved true during the current gold rally in the U.S. Since its low in February, Silver is up over 41 percent. Meanwhile, gold is up about 22 percent in the same period.

An agreement with the UAE that allows private traders to import silver through the India International Bullion Exchange at a lower duty also helped boost silver imports. 

Global silver demand is expected to hit the second-highest level on record in 2024. 

Industrial offtake for silver is expected to lead the growth in global demand this year with a 4 percent increase to a record 690 million ounces. That would build on the all-time high industrial demand in 2023.

The growing use of silver in solar panel production in India reflects a broader trend globally.

According to the Silver Institute, global photovoltaic installations significantly exceeded market expectations in 2023, and new capacity additions are forecast to reach another record high this year. Silver offtake will also benefit from a technological breakthrough bringing new, higher-efficiency N-type solar cells into mass production. These solar cells use even more silver than the older technology.

According to a 2022 research paper by scientists at the University of New South Wales, solar manufacturers could consume over 20 percent of the current annual silver supply by 2027. And by 2050, solar panel production will use approximately 85–98 percent of the current global silver reserves.

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