The Silver Institute
Silver Resources

A|B|C|D|E | F|G|H | I|J|K|L | M|N|O | P|Q|R | S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.

– A –

Ag: Chemical symbol of silver, from its Latin name “Argentum.”

Alloy: A substance having metallic properties and combined by the fusion or diffusion of two or more chemical elements, of which at least one is an elemental metal. Silver with a purity less than .999 is an alloy.

Alluvial: Sedimentary material from running water, sometimes containing precious metals, which is deposited in river beds, flood plains, lakes or at the foot of mountain slopes.

Amalgam: A mixture with mercury and silver, gold, copper or another metal, known since classical times. A major use is in dentistry.

Argent: English term used for silver, based on Latin term “Argentum.”

Assay: Analytical test or trial to ascertain the fineness, or purity, and consistency of precious and other metals.

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– B –

Backwardization: A market situation in which prices are progressively lower in future months than in the nearest month. Opposite of “Contango.”

Bactericides: Materials, such as silver salts, that kill bacteria.

Base metals: Metals that are not noble or precious and serve as a base for any object clad or covered with precious metals.

Bear Market: A market where prices are falling or expected to fall.

Biological Leaching: A process for the dissolution of metals from ores using bacterial action.

Blast Furnace: A furnace where mixed charges of oxide or sulfide ores (copper, iron, lead, tin, etc.), fluxes and fuels are blown with a continuous blast of hot air and sometimes oxygen-enriched air to force combustion for the chemical reduction of ores with metals to their metallic states.

Blast Hole: A hole drilled in rock for blasting with explosives, rather than for exploration and geological information.

Brazing Alloys: See “silver solder”.

Bullion: Precious metals in the form of bars, wafers and ingots in tradable form of .995 purity or finer.

Bull Market: A market where prices are rising or expected to rise.

Bullion Coin: A precious metal coin traded at the current bullion price.

By-product: A secondary or additional mineral or mineral product from a mine, refinery or a secondary refinery.

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– C –

Call Option: An option giving the right but not the obligation to go long at a specific price on or before a particular date.

Cash Market or Price: The physical commodity or the price required for immediate settlement. Also known as “spot price.”

Casting: The formation of objects by pouring molten metal into molds.

Catalyst: A chemical (metal) substance by which its mere presence accelerates, assists, retards or permits a chemical reaction but remains chemically unchanged in nature or amount at the end of the reaction.

Commercial Silver: Silver that is .999 fine (99.9%) or higher, usually sold and shipped in 1000 oz. bars.

Commodity(ies): Raw materials that can be bought and sold.

Complex Ore: An ore containing a number of minerals, one or more of which are of economic value, usually implying difficulty in the extraction or separation of the valuable metals.

Concentrate: An enriched fraction of an ore after separation from other unwanted minerals.

Conductivity: A measure of the ability of a metal to conduct an electrical current.

Contract: An agreement between two or more parties enforceable by law. When applied to commodities, it is an agreement to accept or deliver a specific amount of the commodity on a certain date.

Contango: A market condition in which prices are progressively higher in future months than in the nearest delivery month. A contango market usually reflects ample supplies of a commodity. Opposite of “Backwardization.”

Core Sample: The long cylinder of rock, about one inch or more in diameter recovered by diamond drilling during exploration.

Cut and Fill: A method of stoping where ore is removed in slices, or lifts, after which the excavated slice or lift is filled with rock or other waste material known as backfill, before the next ore is mined.

Cyanidation: The extraction of gold or silver by dissolving it in a weak solution of alkali metal cyanide.

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– D –

Delivery: The tender of the actual commodity such as silver or gold against a short position in futures during the period allowed by the futures contract.

Delivery Month: The calendar month in which the futures contract matures and within which the delivery of the physical commodity is stipulated.

Differential floatation: An after-milling process for the separation of an ore from associated gangue or waste rock, whereby more than one valuable mineral is floated and separated, one from the other, as well as from the waste constituents of the ore.

Differentials: Premiums paid in the market for grades better than the basic grade or discounts allowed for lower grades.

Dilution: Incorporation of low grade mineralization or waste rock with ore during mining operations.

Doré Bullion: An impure alloy of silver and gold produced at a mine; often 35 percent silver, 65 percent gold.

Doré Silver: Crude silver that contains some gold.

Ductility: The capacity of a metal to be hammered into a thin sheet or drawn into a fine wire without breaking.

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– E –

Electrolysis: The process used for refining precious and other metals in which an electric current passes through an electrolyte (chemical solution) from anode to cathode. Impure metal dissolves at the anode and pure metal is deposted to the cathode.

Electroplating: The process by which a thin layer of precious or other metal of varying thickness and finess is electrically deposited onto the surface of another material such as base metal.

Exchange: A place where business is carried on by brokers; generally refers to one of the major stock or commodity exchanges.

Exploration: The prospecting, diamond drilling or other work involved in searching for ore.

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– F –

Fabricator: A company which makes fabricated or semi-fabricated products such as wire, cable, tubes, strip, rods, etc. from refined metals and occasionally from scrap.

Feasibility Study: A refinement and reassessment of the prefeasibilty study, based on extensive additional information, detailed engineering and optimization work. This provides a level of confidence so that a decision to build the project can be made.

Fineness: A measure of the purity equal to the number of parts of pure silver in 1000 parts of the alloy; represents the purity of precious metals, either in monetary or bullion form.

Fine Ounce: A troy ounce of “pure” precious metal.

Fine Silver: Pure silver whereby 1000 parts fine or 999.5 parts (or higher) per 1000 parts silver.

Fine Weight: The actual weight of the pure gold or silver contained in a coin, ingot, bar or other item with a precious metal content, determined by multiplying the gross weight by the fineness, as opposed to the item’s total weight, which includes the weight of the alloying component.

Fix or Fixing: The setting of the precious metals prices once each day by the authorized dealers in London, England. The set prices are used by authorizied dealers to buy and sell precious metals for their clients.

Floatation: The process in which ore is separated from gangue. Ore is agitated in a bath of special liquid so the metallic ore fraction either rises or sinks to the bottom and the gangue does the opposite.

Forward Contract: A cash market transaction in which two parties agree to the purchase and sale of a commodity at some future date.

Futures: A commodity contract is a commitment which requires delivery or receipt of a commodity at an agreed future date, at an agreed price established by public auction in the trading pit of an organized public commodity exchange.

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– G –

Gangue: Waste rock surrounding and/or within an ore which must be separated in order to extract the desired mineral.

Gold/Silver Ratio: The number of ounces of silver that can be bought with one ounce of gold.

Good Delivery Bar: A silver or gold bar that meets the ‘good delivery’ requirements of the London Bullion Market Association. Good delivery bars are the medium for international trading.

Grade: The amount of silver or other metal per metric ton of ore, expressed in grams or kilograms respectively, i.e. the standard set for judging the quality of a mineral, metal or commodity.

Grain: (1) One of the earliest units of weight in which one grain was the equivalent of a grain of wheat taken from the middle of the ear. (2) Spherical particles of silver grain widely sold in the jewelry trade for alloying, made by pouring molten silver into water.

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– H –

Hallmark: A stamped symbol on silver objects guaranteeing that the metal conforms to certain legal quality standards. also showing place of origin.

Hedging: A variety of financial instruments used to guarantee the price to be received or paid on certain commodities such as gold, silver, interest rates, crude oil or currencies.

High Grade: The best or richest ore in a deposit.

Host Rock: Rock in which a deposit of precious metals or other minerals occurs.

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– I –

Ingot: A mass of silver or gold cast in a mold, or stamped from sheet.

Inventory: The working stock of a refiner, jewelery manufacturer, wholesales or bullion dealer.

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– J –

Joint Venture: A mineral exploration program or mine operation funded by two or more parties.

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– L –

Leaching: The extraction of a soluble metallic compound from ore by dissolving the metals in a solvent.

Leasing: The practice by banks and bullion dealers of lending silver at an annual rate of interest, to jewelry manufacturers and other professional users of the metal to provide part of their working stock.

London Price: See “Fix or Fixing.”

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– M –


Malleable: The property of metals being deprived of form, accepting deformation under pressure, hammering or rolling without breaking.

Metallurgy: The science of extracting, smelting, refining alloying and fabricating metals.

Mill: The plant facility where the ore is reduced through crushing and grinding, then it becomes a concentrate through flotation or gravity separations.

Mine Production: The content of usable ore-concentrates produced from a mine.

Mineralization: Mineral-bearing rock.

Mining: The extraction of economically important minerals and ores from the earth.

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– N –

Native silver: Silver found occurring in nature in fairly pure metallic state, notably Norway and Canada.

Nugget: A water-worn piece of precious metal found in nature, usually implying some size

Numismatics: Relating to the hobby or occupation of collecting coins and related items.

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– O –

Options: A privilege or right to buy or sell specified securities or commodities at a definite price within an agreed-upon time.

Ore: A native mineral containing a precious or useful metal or metalliferous minerals in such quantities and in such chemical combination as to make its extraction profitable or a mixture of valuable ore minerals and gangue from which at least one of the metals can be extracted for profit.

Ore Reserves: The prime measured assets of a mine as to tonnage and grade that can be extracted at a profit at current prices and at current technology, in the near future. Resources may be classified as proven, probable, possible or speculative.

Ounce: See “Troy Ounce.”

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Options: Flexible options which represent a specific agreement between the seller and the buyer, each acting as a principal. No details of volume are given and the true size and scope of the OTC market is not known.

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– P –

Primary silver: Unworked silver, usually bullion or grain, newly recovered from mining operations.

Production Cost: The working costs to a mine of producing a metal and can include smelting, refining, and any by-product benefit, but generally excludes taxes, exploration, depreciation, depletion expenses and financing.

Put Option: An option that gives the option buyer the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying futures contract at a particular price on or before a particular date.

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– Q –

Quotation: Price in a market; not necessarily the purchase or sale price, but an indication of market levels.

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– R –

Reduction: The removal of oxygen or similar anion from a chemical compound or oxide ore in order to produce metal.

Reduction Plant: Ore treatment works where ore is milled, a crude or refined form of gold or silver extracted and dispatched to the central refinery.

Reef: A metallic mineral deposit, especially gold-bearing, commonly in a sedimentary rock.

Refining: The process of removing the precious metals from the alloying metals to improve the purity of the precious metals.

Refinery: Facility where precious metals are refined.

Reserve: The portion of a resource that has been actually discovered, outlined and measured but not yet exploited and which at present is technically and economically feasible.

Resource: A concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid or gaseous materials in or on the earth’s crust in such form that economic extraction of a commodity is potentially feasible.

Roasting: Treatment of ore by heat and air, or oxygen enriched air, or other reagent, to eliminate volatile substances and bring about chemical change such as oxidation of sulfides.

Royalty: A share of the gross money receipts, or the profits due an owner of mineral rights under a contract, for the right to work them.

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– S –

Sampling: The selection of a small but representative part of an ore body or process material for analysis.

Shaft: A vertical accessway to a mine. Shafts are used in the movement of personnel and materials, including ore and non-mineralized rock.

Silver: A lustrous, white, malleable and ductile precious metal, with remarkable electrical and thermal, light-reflecting, bacteria-killing, wear resistant, photosensitive and other qualities.

Standard Silver: See “sterling silver.”

Sterling Silver: Silver of .925 fineness — 92.5 % silver; 7.5% copper. Also called “Standard Silver.”

Silver Plating: A technique which uses electrolysis to coat a base metal product with a thin layer of fine silver.

Silver Solder: A group of alloys containing silver, zinc and copper with at least 10 percent silver used for brazing or joining other metals. Also called “Brazing Alloys.”

Slimes: The fine fraction of waste material discharged from the mill after valuable minerals have been recovered or the metallic compounds left in the bath during electrolytic refining of metals.

Smelting: The process of extracting crude metal from its ore or concentrate by fusion, before being sent to the refinery for final processing.

Spot Price: The going price of silver or gold in the daily cash market. See “cash price.”

Stockpile: Broken ore accumulated in a heap at the mine’s surface, pending treatment or shipment to mill, or a stock of metals kept by a government for emergencies.

Stope: Step-like or other excavation in an underground mine for the removal or ore.

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– T –

Tailings: Material rejected from a mill after the recoverable valuable minerals have been extracted.

Troy Ounce or Weight: Ancient French system of weight, taking its name from the medieval trading town of Troyes, France. One troy ounce equals 31.1034 grammes.

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– V –

Vein: A seam or lode of metallic-bearing ore through a rock.

Vermeil: A coating of pure gold of at least 120 micro-inches, on a solid sterling silver artifact. It looks like gold, but is virtually all solid silver.

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– W –

Waste: Rock lacking suffiencient grade and/or other characterisitcs of ore to be economical.

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– Y –

Yield: The actual ore grade realized at the mine mill.

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