Here is a very interesting graphic from Demoncracy.info that helps to visualize where all the silver that has been mined throughout history has gone.
Note that the "Tonnes" measurement used in the graphic is more frequently called a metric ton in the United States. A metric ton or 'tonne' is a unit of mass that is equal to 1,000 kilograms, which is equivalent to 1.102 short tons, or 2,204.6 pounds under the United States customary system of weight.
The graphic reports that the world's silver reserves total 29,665 metric tons (or 32,700 short tons). Also, the world governments have practically zero silver reserves. The current silver reserves are held by these principle entities:
- BMG Bullion Fund — 156.5 metric tons
- ZKB Silver ETF — 230.0 metric tons
- Canadian Maples Minted — 662.5 metric tons
- LBMA* estimated stocks — 2,332.7 metric tons
- Central Fund of Canada (CEF) — 2,339.2 metric tons
- Estimated Private Bullion — 3,732.4 metric tons
- COMEX Warehouses — 3,548.9 metric tons
- US Eagles Minted — 7,477.8 metric tons
- Silver ETF (SLV) — 9,185.2 metric tons
A cursory inspection of a couple of items on the list indicates that all these numbers might be slightly out of date and should be double checked for accuracy.
For example, the Central Fund of Canada (stock symbol CEF) currently reports that it has 76,964,103 ounces of silver as of the close of business on March 1st, 2013. That is equivalent to 2,182 metric tons, which is 157.2 metric tons less than the amount of 2,339.2 metric tons used in calculating the graphic.
Another example of old numbers: the iShares silver ETF (SLV) reports on March 1, 2013, that it current owns 10,650.86 metric tons or silver. That is 1,465.66 metric tons over the amount of 9,185.2 metric tons indicated by the graphic.
Anyway, it is all close enough for big bullion work.
For a higher resolution image and more info visit Silver - Visualized in Bullion Bars at Demoncracy.com.
* Update: The above list of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that hold silver bullion also did not include the Sprott Physical Siver Trust (PSLV). Based in Toronto, Canada and run by Eric Sprott this fund currently holds 1397 metric tons (or 49,287,863 ounces) of silver. The fund was started in October 2010.