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Why Gold is Money: A Periodic Perspective

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Why Gold is Money: A Periodic Perspective

Why Gold is Money

The economist John Maynard Keynes famously called gold a “barbarous relic”, suggesting that its usefulness as money is an artifact of the past. In an era filled with cashless transactions and hundreds of cryptocurrencies, this statement seems truer today than in Keynes’ time.

However, gold also possesses elemental properties that has made it an ideal metal for money throughout history.

Sanat Kumar, a chemical engineer from Columbia University, broke down the periodic table to show why gold has been used as a monetary metal for thousands of years.

The Periodic Table

The periodic table organizes 118 elements in rows by increasing atomic number (periods) and columns (groups) with similar electron configurations.

Just as in today’s animation, let’s apply the process of elimination to the periodic table to see why gold is money:

  • Gases and Liquids
    Noble gases (such as argon and helium), as well as elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine and chlorine are gaseous at room temperature and standard pressure. Meanwhile, mercury and bromine are liquids. As a form of money, these are implausible and impractical.
  • Lanthanides and Actinides
    Next, lanthanides and actinides are both generally elements that can decay and become radioactive. If you were to carry these around in your pocket they could irradiate or poison you.
  • Alkali and Alkaline-Earth Metals
    Alkali and alkaline earth metals are located on the left-hand side of the periodic table, and are highly reactive at standard pressure and room temperature. Some can even burst into flames.
  • Transition, Post Transition Metals, and Metalloids
    There are about 30 elements that are solid, nonflammable, and nontoxic. For an element to be used as money it needs to be rare, but not too rare. Nickel and copper, for example, are found throughout the Earth’s crust in relative abundance.
  • Super Rare and Synthetic Elements
    Osmium only exists in the Earth’s crust from meteorites. Meanwhile, synthetic elements such as rutherfordium and nihonium must be created in a laboratory.

Once the above elements are eliminated, there are only five precious metals left: platinum, palladium, rhodium, silver and gold. People have used silver as money, but it tarnishes over time. Rhodium and palladium are more recent discoveries, with limited historical uses.

Platinum and gold are the remaining elements. Platinum’s extremely high melting point would require a furnace of the Gods to melt back in ancient times, making it impractical. This leaves us with gold. It melts at a lower temperature and is malleable, making it easy to work with.

Gold as Money

Gold does not dissipate into the atmosphere, it does not burst into flames, and it does not poison or irradiate the holder. It is rare enough to make it difficult to overproduce and malleable to mint into coins, bars, and bricks. Civilizations have consistently used gold as a material of value.

Perhaps modern societies would be well-served by looking at the properties of gold, to see why it has served as money for millennia, especially when someone’s wealth could disappear in a click.

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Electrification

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

With a rich history of mining, Peru plays a vital role in supplying the world with silver for clean energy technologies and electrification.

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Peru's Silver Mining Strength

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Peru’s silver mining industry is critical as the world progresses towards a clean energy transition. Silver’s use in EVs, solar energy, and mobile technologies will require ready supplies to meet demand.

Peru will be centre stage as the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal.

This graphic sponsored by Silver X showcases Peru’s silver mining strength on the global scale, putting in perspective the country’s prolific production.

Global Silver Production by Country

Mexico, Peru, and China dominate global silver production, with these countries producing more than double the silver of any other country outside of the top three.

In terms of regional production, Central and South America provide the backbone for the world’s silver industry. With five nations in the top 10 producers, these regions delivered ~50% of the world’s 2020 silver production.

Country2020 Silver Production (in million ounces)Share of Global Silver Production
Mexico178.122.7%
Peru109.714.0%
China108.613.8%
Chile47.46.0%
Australia43.85.6%
Russia42.55.4%
Poland39.45.0%
United States31.74.0%
Bolivia29.93.8%
Argentina22.92.9%
World Total784.4100%

Along with being the top silver mining regions in the world, Central and South America silver production expects to have the strongest rebound in 2021.

While global silver production could increase by 8.2%, Central and South America’s production could rise by 12.1%.

Peru can feed this growth, with the country’s exploration investment forecast for this year expected to reach up to $300 million with over 60 projects currently in various stages of development.

The South American Powerhouse: Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Despite its current silver production, there remains more to mine and explore. In fact, Peru holds the majority of the world’s silver reserves with 18.2%, making it the global focal point for silver exploration and future production.

CountrySilver Reserves (in tons)Share of World Silver
Peru91,00018.2%
China41,0008.2%
Mexico37,0007.4%
Chile26,0005.2%
Australia25,0005.0%
Other countries280,00056%
World total500,000100%

While 2020 and 2021 saw slowdowns in mineral production, Peru’s metallic mining subsector increased by 5.1% in August 2021 compared to the same month last year. The country’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics also highlighted a double-digit rise in silver production of 22.7% compared to August of last year.

Satiating the World’s Silver Demand

As silver demand is forecasted to increase by 15% just in 2021, silver supply constraints are a clear roadblock for clean energy technologies and electric vehicle production. With Peru’s annual silver production forecasted to grow by more than 27% by 2024, the country is looking to solve the world’s growing silver supply crunch.

The nation’s strong credit ratings and well-established mining sector offers investors a unique opportunity to tap into the growth of Peru and its silver industry, while powering renewable energy and electric vehicle production.

As a Peru-based mineral development and exploration company, Silver X Mining is working to produce and uncover the silver deposits that will provide the world with the metal it needs for cleaner technologies.

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Real Assets

The Next Frontier: Mineral Exploration in Saskatchewan

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Saskatchewan Mineral Exploration

The Next Frontier: Mineral Exploration in Saskatchewan

Lying in the heart of Canada is the next great mineral exploration frontier, Saskatchewan. This humble province lies at the center of one of the greatest mining countries in the world, but despite Canada’s long history with mining, Saskatchewan is still open for discovery.

This infographic from our sponsor SKRR Exploration shows where the next mineral frontier for discovery lies in Saskatchewan.

The Road to Resources: Opening for Business

Saskatchewan covers 588,239 square kilometers, roughly the size of Iran or Mongolia, with a population density of only 1.8 persons per square kilometer. This central province sits on the edge of a vast frontier that is rich with mineral resources that could power and feed the world.

In order to encourage investment, Saskatchewan has several incentive programs for the mining industry.

  • The Targeted Mineral Exploration Incentive: 25% rebate on eligible drilling costs in regions of high potential for base metals, precious metals and diamonds.
  • The Saskatchewan Mineral Exploration Tax Credit: A non-refundable 10% tax credit to Saskatchewan taxpayers who invest in eligible flow-through shares issued by mining or exploration companies.
  • A 10-year royalty holiday for new gold and base metal mines.
  • A 5-year incorporation tax rebate for mineral processing.

While the province is encouraging mineral exploration, there are already proven success stories that are just scraping the surface of the opportunities available.

Resources Ready to Go

In 2020, Saskatchewan sold C$7.4 billion worth of metals and minerals, the fourth highest amount in Canada. Saskatchewan’s mining sector provides business opportunities and jobs for over 12,400 individuals across the province, and contributes an additional 25,000 indirect jobs.

  • Potash: The province has the largest potash industry in the world, accounting for about 1/3 of annual global production and hosting nearly half of the world’s known reserves.
  • Uranium: The world’s richest deposits of uranium lie in Saskatchewan, giving the province the ability to produce more uranium with less land surface disturbance than almost anywhere on Earth.
  • Diamonds: In 2004, Shore Gold discovered diamonds near Fort à La Corne in central Saskatchewan. There is a plan to bring the 66-million carat Star-Orion South project into production.
  • Base Metals: The Flin Flon mining camp, on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, is a large base metal producer region and is estimated to have the highest contained value of ore per square kilometer in Canada for VMS deposits.
  • Gold: The province holds two multi-million ounce discoveries to date, the Seabee and MacLellan gold mines in the Trans-Hudson geological formation.

There is more to discovery. Exploration expenditures in 2019 were $264 million, and companies planned to spend $242 million in 2020.

SKRR Exploration: Opening a Frontier

SKRR Exploration is leading mineral exploration into Canada’s final frontier and has secured prime mineral properties to take advantage of the wave of demand for metals. SKRR has six gold and one base metal exploration projects in the heart of one of the most prospective geological belts in North America.

At the helm of SKRR exploration are two leaders who know the geology of Saskatchewan well and have a proven history of discovery, Ron Neolitzky and Ross McElroy. Neolitzky was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame for his development of two successful precious metals mines. McElroy was part of the exploration team that discovered Cameco’s McArthur uranium deposit.

SKRR Exploration is bringing together the right elements of Saskatchewan to make the next great discovery.

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