Out of all the possible drivers that could push silver up into the sky, Keith Neumeyer, CEO of First Majestic Silver, thinks governmental policies might just be the thing. But instead of loose fiscal ones, it’s the tightening grip on gasoline vehicles that’s shaping up to be a massive driver. In an interview with Kitco, the CEO spoke about the changes in the automotive industry that are taking place, driven partially if not wholly by governments favoring electric vehicles (EVs) over carbon-dioxide-spewing internal combustion engines.
The view that engines of the latter are polluting the environment might have opposing sides in general terms, but it has swept governments around the world by storm. With countries like the U.S. and U.K. already preparing to ban sales of traditional vehicles, it does appear that an automotive revolution is underway. And it just so happens to be one that will heavily favor silver.
Neumeyer has always been extremely bullish on the metal, having previously forecast that it could hit triple digits in the long-term. Now, he sees silver going towards the higher end of that triple digit range due to basic supply and demand dynamics. Silver’s supply picture has always been a lackluster one, with the metal mostly coming in as a byproduct of mining other metals (copper, lead and zinc primarily). Only 28% of silver mines primarily produce silver. This means that silver miners are slower to respond to rises in spot price. They have to consider the costs and value of the other metals they’re digging up.
There’s a grassroots movement of physical silver investors who believe that the paper silver market is heavily manipulated, and that there is nowhere near enough silver to cover the contracts. Neumeyer gives this theory his backing without citing evidence.
Interestingly enough, while Neumeyer acknowledges that QE and U.S. dollar debasement will boost gold and drag silver along the way, he views these drivers as considerably less important. Instead, he is looking towards the amount of available silver against the prospect of ever-growing demand from the industrial side.
As Neumeyer noted, the mining industry currently produces 800 million silver a year, of which 100 million already go towards EV production and another 100 million towards solar panels. Combined, that makes up close to 20% of annual production. Neumeyer points out that the automotive industry currently produces 19 million cars a year, of which 5 million are EVs.
If the governments of the world get their way, every gasoline vehicle will be replaced with an EV within a decade or two. Neumeyer says that this amounts to roughly a billion cars, which obviously puts quite a strain on the automotive industry and therefore silver miners.
With 100 million ounces of silver needed for every 5 million EVs made, it’s clear that even a slight increase in EV demand could quickly shake up prices. It’s definitely looking to come together nicely with growing demand for physical silver among investors, many of whom are staunch believers that the price is being suppressed through derivatives and that it should indeed be closer to Neumeyer’s forecasts than its current levels. Given the silver shortages in various top mints around the world as of late, the theory is not an easy one to dismiss.