New Delhi, November 16:

Despite a sharp hike in silver prices, the demand for the metal in India has more than doubled between January and September 2005, according to a report by London-based precious metals consultants.

“The Indian demand has recovered strongly in 2005 from very weak levels in 2004. Indian imports surged on dips below $7 per ounce. From January to September this year, Indian imports of silver are estimated to have doubled,” the report ‘The Silver Market 2005’ stated.

It stated that the demand for the metal this year has been stable in Italy and Thailand but higher in Mexico and China. In India particularly, there has been a tremendous demand despite the hike in prices of raw material. It said from around 88 million ounces in 2003, Indian silver imports dipped to around 50 million ounces in 2004. But in the first nine months of 2005 till September end, import of silver in India was estimated to have reached 90 million ounces. Globally, the demand of silver is led by industrial off take accounting for 44 per cent share followed by silverware and jewellery share of 32 per cent, photography 18 per cent, silver coins four per cent and investments two per cent.

So far this year, there has been a 14 per cent rise in demand for jewellery and silverware to 35 million ounces, six per cent in industrial off take, while coins manufacturing has witnessed a dip of nine per cent to 22 million ounces and 12 per cent in photography. Rise in industrial growth and continued strength of electronics and electrical sectors has led to a rise.