LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Global demand for silver will rise to 1.025 billion ounces in 2021, its highest in eight years, as investors and industry ramp up purchases, the Silver Institute said on Wednesday, predicting that prices would rise.
The coronavirus outbreak triggered a rush among investors to stockpile silver, which like gold is traditionally seen as a safe place to store money.
That impetus will continue, the institute said, predicting purchases of bars and coins would rise to a six-year high of 257 million ounces in 2021.
It did not give a forecast for exchange traded funds (ETFs) storing silver bars for larger investors, but these have grown strongly so far this year, helping push prices to an eight year high of $30.03 an ounce on Feb. 1.
Silver is also used in industries such as electronics and solar panels, and demand will rise as the pandemic is brought under control and the global economy rebounds, the institute said.
Industrial demand will rise 9% from 2020 to a four-year high of 510 million ounces, it said.
Demand for silver for jewellery will rise to 174 million ounces but remain below levels seen before the pandemic.
On the supply side, mine production should rise to 866 million ounces this year, the most since 2016, as disruption caused by the pandemic recedes, and recycled supply will increase for a fifth year, the institute said.
The market will be slightly oversupplied, its sixth consecutive annual surplus, the institute said. It calculates its supply-demand balance without counting ETFs.
“The outlook for the silver price in 2021 remains exceptionally encouraging, with the annual average price projected to rise by 46 percent to ... $30,” it said in a statement.
“Given silver’s smaller market and the increased price volatility this can generate, we expect silver to comfortably outperform gold this year.”
The Silver Institute prepares its reports with help from Metals Focus, a precious metals consultancy.
(Reporting by Peter Hobson. Editing by Mark Potter)