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Silver is mined from natural silver ores around the world. Silver is usually found combined with sulfur, antimony, arsenic, and chlorine. It is also found in various ores such as argentite and chlorargyrite. However, about three quarters of silver is produced from gold, copper, lead and zinc ores. Pure silver mines are very few in number.
Silver prospecting or exploration is the process of an organized search for precious mineral ore deposits. Silver prospecting is generally conducted by registered professional prospecting companies. Prospecting involves extensive labor, panning, sifting and outcrop investigation.
Silver is commonly extracted from ore by smelting. Electrolytic refining of copper also produces silver. A man named Alexander Parks also invented a process for removing silver from lead by extraction with molten zinc.
Peru is the largest silver producer in the world followed by Mexico and it has been reported that global mine production of silver in 2007 was about 671 million ounces.