Silver - Ag, a mineral of the class of native elements, crystallizes in a cubic system, cubic-hexoctahedral symmetry. It is found in argenites (sulfide) and horny silver (silver chloride), and is also mined as a by-product of the purification of copper and lead. Silver was one of the first metals mastered by man. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Mexico is the main producer of silver, although silver ores are scattered throughout the world.
The color is silver-white, often with yellow, brown or black tarnishing. Silver from the surface oxidizes rather quickly in air and the faster, the more impurities it contains, while the surface color changes to black with a sheen of various shades. Luster metallic to matte, feature silver-white, lustrous. Hardness 2.5 - 3. Density 9.6 -12. Cleavage is absent, fracture is concave. Extremely pliable, flexible, malleable. It has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity among metals. It is a diamagnet. It melts easily under the soldering tube. Reacts with HCl, forming a white curdled precipitate (AgCl). Reaction with H2S gives a black coloration.
The formation of native silver in nature is in many ways similar to the formation of copper. It, together with other silver-bearing minerals, occurs in hydrothermal vein deposits in association with argentite (Ag2S) and calcite (Kongsberg deposit in Norway), sometimes in association with complex sulfurous, arsenic, antimony compounds of various metals, including nickel and cobalt.
Under exogenous conditions, it, like native copper, is found in the zones of oxidation of deposits of sulfurous and arsenic-antimony ores, being a product of their decomposition and reduction from surface solutions by various organic compounds. The native silver formed under these conditions often has the form of dendrites, plates, mossy, wire, hair-like forms, etc. connections.
Under surface conditions, native silver is less stable than gold. It is often covered with black films and smears. In areas with a hot, dry climate, it often transforms from the surface into stable halogen compounds (AgCl, etc.).
Silver is mainly used in alloys with copper for making silver items, coins, etc. Pure silver is used for filigree work, making crucibles for melting alkalis, for silvering, for obtaining chemical compounds and other purposes. The main mass of silver (about 80%) is mined not in native form, but as a by-product from silver-rich lead-zinc, gold and copper deposits.
The areas of application of silver are constantly expanding, and its use is not only alloys, but also chemical compounds. A certain amount of silver is constantly consumed for the production of silver-zinc and silver-cadmium storage batteries, which have a very high energy density and massive energy consumption and are capable of delivering very high currents to the load with a low internal resistance.