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Silver prices

Harry Crank

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The price of silver on world metal exchanges has really spiked these past weeks, breaking out well above the previous $20 peak in 2008, at $36.39 an ounce at close on iShares, Friday. That's bad news if you're purchasing photo materials from manufacturers, but a good incentive to recover more silver from waste. --The fix in some minilabs this month might be worth more than the old machine! :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Silver content all depends on the brand of paper being used and the amount of film being processed. It also depends on what size prints you process, as you can imagine the bigger the print the more silver being washed off the paper.

The figure you are being quoted sounds very low but it does all depend on what you are doing. If you could tell me the paper brand I can give you some idea.

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Interestingly, the industry considers silver content a "closed loop", because most of what goes in at the manufacturing end comes back out again at the processing end. But there's a break in the so-called "closed loop", because there's no direct link between silver recovered and silver going in again.

This allows us to take a windfall on silver recovery in the very short term, but in the short-to-medium term (ie. already!) manufacturers pass on their increased cost to the end-user, who consequently buys less film and wet prints, ultimately impacting both us and the manufacturers.

Enjoy it while it lasts (if at all!) :-)

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Kodak "typically" produces between 0.5 grams to 1 gram of silver per litre of silver bearing waste, basically for every 1000 Litres your waste should produce between 500 grams to 1 kilogram of silver!.

As i said previously the only thing to remember is that silver content will vary greatly depending on what you are processing, but after saying that your original figure being quoted as an assay sounds very low.

Film always has the highest silver content, the figures I quoted above are based on the current market where most of the waste comes from paper, back in the days of people processing 100`s or even 1000`s of films per day you could be getting 2 or 3 grams of silver per litre or even higher.

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Sorry to stumble upon this thread late, I notice that the companies consider silver a closed loop?

Plenty gets dumped down the drain in wash water, and a certain percentage doesn't get plated due to "diseconomy" of getting too high a percentage (probably computed when prices were low per troy ounce).

None of this goes back into film or paper though.  Kodak uses hundred troy ounce bars at a time straight into the furnace to form the silver halides they use in films, papers.  Unfortunately, recycled silver is treated like recycled paper, i.e. not put back into first run applications.

I agree it is in all of our best interests to continue to recycle as much as we can.  Silver being wasted only hurts the price, hastens AgX imaging's, my own personal demise.  And then there are thsoe pesky B&W shooters keeping half of it in their negatives, prints ;-)

Jest aside, I can't understand why, in this industry, silver HALIDES are so casually discarded by the dumpsterful in professional labs, college darkrooms, etc.  People will pay for it!  And it is a precious metal we are working with here.  Make sure your scrap film, paper, developed or undeveloped, is properly disposed of, giving the price of our material breathing room, plese!

And don't buy into a Goddamned hedge fund that speculates on silver, or on crude oil for that matter!  

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It is here as well, but the rules are given in allowable concentrations.  Below a certain concentration, you can dump it, so I think most operations have to recover it from fixer, blix, but the bleach, silver halides, and residual silver in the wash water all fall below concentrations.

Same thing with silver recover units, I think you only need to get 90 or 95% out before it is considered fit for dumping.

Personally, i don't want to see ANY silver, let's say any more than 00.01% escape the cycle.

And, again, what about silver HALIDES?  Scrap film, paper, often I see these just casually thrown in the trash with metal cassettes and backing paper, spools.  It isn't reduced to black metallic silver, but it is still driving up cost needlessly throwing it out.

I don't even like blank photo paper being landfilled instead of recycing it, but throwing out junk rolls of fogged paper, all the B&W test strips, prints in a darkroom just seems stupid, and wasteful.  Just because there's no law against pitching it doesn't mean that pitching it isn't ignorant and wasteful, and ultimately will contribute to the price of our raw materials going up.

The photography/film industry burns through BILLIONS of troy ounces of silver every year.  Even with the laws, I bet less than 90% of that silver is reclaimed.  That's at least a HUNDRED MILLION TROY OUNCES escaping the cycle $3-5/8 billion US at those price highs.

Gasoline you burn up and it is gone, but silver can be reused over and over and over again.  There's no reason to loose anymore than a negligible amount, maybe 1% or 0.5%.

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