Record Breaking Silver Factors In 2015 Can Make 2016 Quite Interesting

There were two record-breaking silver factors in 2015 that could turn out to be quite an interesting development for 2016.  The figures that make up these separate factors don’t seem so striking until we combine them and study at the trends.

This is what I enjoy doing the most.  Why?  Because I can see interesting developments that aren’t readily apparent when we look at the figures or data individually.  By combing this data, we can spot noteworthy trends that could likely set up the market for stunning future price movements in silver.

For example, 2015 turned out to be a record year for total U.S. and Indian silver imports.  Combined U.S. & Indian silver imports didn’t just surpass the previous record set in 2014… IT SMASHED IT by 20%:

US-&-India-Silver-Imports-vs-Mine-Supply

As we can see, U.S. and Indian silver imports surged to 14,446 metric tons (mt) in 2015, up 20% from 12,045 mt in 2014.  This turns out to be a cool 464 million oz (Moz) of silver.  Furthermore, the combined silver imports of these two countries accounted for 53% of total global mine supply.  Thus the percentage of U.S. and Indian silver imports versus global mine supply continues to grow from 29% in 2012.

Note:  While it’s confusing to some readers to see figures stated in metric tons and troy ounces, that is due to the way it’s reported by the industry.  I could convert everything to one standard, say metric tons, but this wouldn’t help because many official sources report data in troy ounces.  So, the reader just has to get used to making the conversion by using the following:  (1 metric ton = 32,150 oz).

Investors need to realize that the U.S. and India importing 53% of total mine supply is a significant figure.  I would imagine India is importing a lot of silver not only because of it’s an excellent investment at the low $15 price, but due to their huge demand for future solar installations.

India Plans To Get Stupid With Massive New Solar Installations

Global-Solar-Power-InstalledIndia plans to bring online 100 Gigawatts (GW) of solar installations by 2022.  As of 2014, they only had 3 GW of solar installed.  India’s drive to add that much solar to their energy mix will consume a great deal of silver.  I don’t see their silver imports falling off a cliff anytime soon.  That being said, I would like to say a few things about the solar industry.

As I have stated in several articles and interviews, large solar power installations are not economically viable when we consider their full cycle costs over their lifespan.  Just about every cash flow analysis I have studied on Solar Farms and large installations show they don’t pay back the originally investment over the functional lifespan of the project (20-25 years).

However, to make these BOONDOGGLES somewhat feasible, the public utilities pay the Solar Power Plants 2-3 times higher the going wholesale electric rate.  I am not saying this occurs on every project, but I have seen it to be the industry standard.  Why?  Because the Solar Farm can’t pay its bills over the lifespan of the project when it has to compete with regular (coal or natgas fired plants) wholesale electricity rates.

So, even though I would advise the Indian Government or private companies in the country not to waste their capital dumping it into Solar Projects, they will continue to do so by installing 100 GW by 2022.  I plan on writing a BULLET REPORT on this subject matter because we could all learn a valuable lesson from the disaster still unfolding in Spain.

According to the recent article, Tilting at Windmills, Spain’s disastrous attempt to replace fossil fuels with Solar Photovoltaics:

The gold rush to get the subsidy of 47 Euro cents per kWh began. Because the subsidy was so high, far too many solar PV plants were built quickly — more than the government could afford.  This might not have happened if global banks hadn’t got involved and handed out credit like candy.

Even before the financial crash of 2008 the Spanish government began to balk at paying the full subsidies, and after the 2008 crash (which was partly brought on by this over-investment in solar PV), the government began issuing dozens of decrees lowering the subsidies and allowed profit margins. In addition, utilities were allowed to raise their electric rates by up to 20%.

Solar companies went bankrupt after the financial crash, including the Chinese company Suntech, which sold 40% of its product to Spain.  About 44,000 of the nation’s 57,900 PV installations are almost bankrupt, and companies continue to fail (Cel Celis), or lay off many employees (Spanish photovoltaic module manufacturer T-Solar).

Do you see the problem here?  First, the utilities were allowed to raise their rates 20%.  Why would the utility companies have to raise their rates if Solar was such a technological innovation for the world??  Second, at the time of the article (Sept 2015), 44,000 of the nations 57,000 PV installations were nearly bankrupt.  Does this sound like a commercially viable enterprise?

Well, we humans… especially the ones making policy decisions in governments, will not learn from Spain’s Solar Industry disaster.   Basically, the less economic sense things make to Governments, the more STUPID they become.

Again, it doesn’t bother me one bit that India plans on consuming millions of ounces of silver to build their massive solar farms and installations.  Why? It’s less silver remaining for the market and investors.  Thus, it adds more pressure on the silver market going forward.

Official Silver Coin Sales in 2015 Smash Previous Records By Wide Margin

Another record silver factor that occurred in 2015 were Official Silver coin sales.  Not only did Official Silver coin sales hit 130 Moz  in 2015, it surpassed the previous record set in 2011 (116.4 Moz) by a hefty 12%:

Global-Official-Silver-Coin-Sales-2003-2015

While there have been some down years (2012 & 2014) since Official Silver coin sales jumped in 2008, I don’t see this trend reversing anytime soon.  Furthermore, the massive amount of increased debt and leverage in the financial system since 2008 only guarantees that demand for Official Silver coins will become even stronger in the following years.

As I mentioned in my article, Silver Eagle Sales To Jump 25% Due To Deteriorating Market Conditions:

Silver Eagle sales will likely jump by 25% in the first quarter due to deteriorating market conditions.  During the first three months last year the U.S. Mint sold 12 million Silver Eagles.  Already, sales of Silver Eagles have reached 13 million.  There are two weeks remaining in March and the U.S. Mint will likely sell another two million.  This will put total Silver Eagle sales for the first quarter at 15 million….. the highest ever.

Already the U.S. Mint sold 13.9 Moz of Silver Eagles and there is a week and a half remaining in March.  We will easily hit the 15 Moz mark by the end of the month.  If the U.S. Mint can continue pumping out 1 Moz of Silver Eagles per week and if demand also remains strong, we could see total sales for 2016 reaching 50-52 Moz.

Just think about the huge increase of U.S. and Indian silver imports and record Official Silver Coin demand in 2015.  If these two trends continue to grow in 2016, it could turn out to be quite an interesting year.

One more thing.  I don’t know if you all noticed in the first chart, but according to the data put out by the World Metals Statistics, they show a slight decline in global silver production in 2015:

Total-Global-Silver-Mine-Supply

The World Metals Statistics shows 2015 global silver production down slightly from 27,442 mt in 2014 to 27,426 mt in 2015.  I thought world silver mine supply would be down 1-2% in 2015, but I don’t have all the detailed data on all foreign countries.

I do believe global silver mine supply will be lower in 2016 due to the shutting down of several base metal mines.  If the price of copper falls even lower in the second half of the year, we could see even more copper mines shut down… thus causing more declines of by-product silver production.

When you add up all of these silver factors, I believe 2016 could surprise investors even though we are currently experiencing a short-term bullion bank precious metal price take-down.

I will be soon releasing a new BULLET REPORT on the Gold Market.  It provides charts and data on how the recent flows are setting up the Gold Market for a big move in the future.

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28 Comments on "Record Breaking Silver Factors In 2015 Can Make 2016 Quite Interesting"

  1. It seems in the U.S. solar is as well playing a big part in future expectations. Craigslist employment section under sales. Every other opening is for selling solar. It takes manufacturing to promote those sales.

  2. India is building Solar plants not to replace or compete with existing power facilities but to create infrastructure for communities and regions that are under served or do not have power at all. Very big difference between Spain and India. I think its a good move myself. You get 25 years of clean energy and at the end of the panel’s life cycle you have all that recoverable silver. In 25 years the world will most likely be a very different place, and I suspect silver will be worth a lot more “money” then it is today. Could be that installing solar panels today turns out to be a great hedge against silver scarcity of tomorrow.

    • petedivine,

      Yes, India is installing Solar to get power to more rural areas of the country. Furthermore, Solar is another way for rural farmers to power their water pumps for irrigation, instead of dealing with diesel powered water pumps.

      Regardless, Solar is not economically viable over the 20-25 year lifespan of the system. We will find out more about this as Solar Plants and their panels lose an increasing amount of efficiency especially after the 10th year.

      The only way Solar makes sense is on a small scale local basis… and if you don’t’ care about getting a return on your investment. What is more important is to have GUARANTEED ELECTRIC via SOLAR when the grid goes down. This is worth more than getting ones investment back. This is the only way I see Solar as feasible.

      steve

      • In 25 years silver may become so precious that projects of this magnitude will become an impossibility. The upside to investing in solar now is that the silver required for the next generation of power plants can be recovered from the existing infrastructure. The EROI on India’s undertaking using today’s numbers doesn’t make financial sense, but what about the much more difficult to predict future of energy and silver scarcity? What about the value of clean air?

        Example: I am building garden beds with high quality materials. The cost for 3 beds using cedar planks, organic compost, heirloom seeds, not including my time and energy is well over $1000. I will not see a return on investment in the traditional sense for many years. However, the high quality food stuffs and increased resiliency make it a worthwhile endeavor.

    • Depending on how India implements solar on this scale, there could be a cost benefit not applicable in developed countries like the US and Europe. It is difficult to quantify and hence include in calculations but it is the reduced need to string expensive high voltage lines, along with their transformers etc, across the country. We already have total coverage, they don’t.

      If a good proportion of the new capacity is generated and distributed in local areas, say farms factories or villages, the cost/benefit equation could well be different.

      • JohninMK,

        I will like to remind you that Solar Power has several setbacks:

        1) there is no storage of power for night generation
        2) The more solar power in a grid system, the more expensive balancing electric generation is needed
        3) Solar power panels lose a great deal of efficiency as time goes by.
        4) Solar power normally can’t pay back the investment capital

        When you start to add inverters and battery storage for local systems, the cost benefit goes down the toilet. I am not against solar, I just have done the research and EROI studies which prove that Solar Power is not really a cost benefit. The only benefit it offers is expensive electricity in areas or locations where none is available.

        steve

        • As others have already noted, there might be more important things than getting a return on your investment, at least to some people. Like development of rural areas, giving more people any access to energy at all, finding ways to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in order to fight climate change (oh wait…I guess that’s just another mainstream conspiracy).

          Apart from that I’ll admit that I don’t know the first thing about the profitability of solar power plants. What I do know, is that as with most inventions and electrical appliances, energy efficiency increases over time if research continues and smart people work on improving these products. So it’s probably worth pursuing anyway.

          Anyway, I’m glad your’re not against solar. Your article sure makes it sound like you are.

          • No-One,

            I don’t spend as much time commenting here as I used to. Just too much to do. Anyhow, you brought up some good points to discuss.

            1) Solar is only good if the individual or group doesn’t care about getting a return on investment. Rather, the guarantee of power is the utmost importance. I totally agree with owning a simple solar system on ones home to have guaranteed power.

            2) While I don’t discuss it much at all, I actually believe in the theory of ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE. I don’t spend time discussing or debating this because there is nothing to be done. Basically, we are fried. The global heating goes exponential from here on out. So, there is no way to stop it. Again, the reason I don’t debate this issue is due the fact that most individuals are either ignorant of the real fundamentals or too stoopid to know the difference.

            3) The notion that technology or electrical appliances become more efficient over time is a RED HERRING. Actually, the opposite is the case. The more technology we throw at something the more energy is consumed in the overall system and the less EROI – Energy Returned On Invested it becomes. Thus, technology is its own curse. The more we go down the path of thinking TECHNOLOGY will solve our problems, the worse the collapse will become.

            steve

  3. “I will be soon releasing a new BULLET REPORT on the Gold Market. It provides charts and data on how the recent flows are setting up the Gold Market for a big move in the future.”

    How about some comment on this from a recent article:

    “IMF data (International Monetary Fund) shows that the Russia and China have been among the biggest net buyers of Gold for eight years in a row. Last year countries purchases close to 590 tons of Gold accounting for 14% of annual global gold bullion demand.”

    The term “countries” is used without listing them, but regardless 14% is a ridiculous figure. Aren’t Russia, China, and India buying over 100% of the world’s annual mine output?

    • David,

      I believe the IMF is referring to Chinese & Russian Central Bank gold purchases last year. According to the World Gold Council, total net Official Gold purchases were 588.4 mt in 2015. This may also include some net sales. So, total Official gold purchases may have been higher than the 588.4 mt figure.

      steve

      • OK. Then there are corporate and individuals’ purchases in Russia and China. And then there is all demand from India.

        • I think Steve is right about these figures being central bank figures.
          Just a month ago I wrote a piece on goldproduction in Russia and China from their own mines. I looked into the period 2003 to 2013. In Russia total inland goldproduction over that period was 1.991 metric ton (source BGS UK), while the central banks goldreserves increased with 648 metric ton from 387 to 1.035 ton (source WGC/IFS/IMF). So from mining in Russia itself and melting it, only about one third reached the central bank in that time span.
          For China total gold production was 3.332 metric tons (source BGS UK), while the central bank goldreserves only rose only by app. 850 tons from 600 tons to, and this is an estimation of mine 1.450 tons end 2013. So for China this has even been less in percentage than Russia.
          Please notice that I’m speaking of the timespan 2003-2013 and also only about central banks of Russia and China.
          As far as I can see these figures of the IMF are meaningless, because what David suggested about corporate and private purchases is true. Sure these have been happening too. Of course. But there is little information on where exactly that went. And my take in the matter of central banks in common is that is not important what the WGC, IFS or IMF come up with as the official figures, but how much gold these central banks can lay their hands on, when the need is there, for whatever reason. And this could very well mean also corporate and private stocks.

  4. I agree for large scale operations solar may not be the most efficient compared to coal etc. But for homes, rural areas or undeveloped off grid solar makes sense. I have a small home run on solar and the cost of using solar is 20 times cheaper over a 10 year period than a public utility and 10 times cheaper than using a gas powered generator if off the grid over a 10 year period. Then there is the added benefit of not having to depend on someone else to provide what you can provide yourself. It appears you look at statistics but have never experienced solar in your personal home or maybe you were quoted an overly high figure for a solar system which is a common discouragement to the install. I have heard of new installs on homes as high as 30,000 for solar but in reality you can get a primo solar system for an average size home for about half that. The fact is many builders just don’t have the knowledge about solar so they either refuse to do it or quote a inflated price because they don’t understand how simple it can be.

  5. It seams that this was again a silver and gold bull trap.In some days all money you make is away.

    As long as there is such a high votality we cannot say the bear market is over.Typically in starting bull markets there must be much more confidence.

  6. The commercials are short.–>No bull market!

    • Check this one: http://www.mining.com/web/847162/
      “Many have expected a correction due to the CoT, which shows a net speculative position of 37.6% of open interest. While this figure appears high, we should note that from 2001 through 2012 the net speculative position often peaked from 50% to 60%. “

      • When it is really a bull market selling is not smart.I mean stocks.
        The difference between Bid and Ask is huge at some juniors.
        The swings are really heavy.

  7. I estimate the silver output is about 10% to high.(3000 tonnen)

  8. Rumplestiltskin | March 24, 2016 at 6:28 am | Reply

    Silver is used in many many types of manufacturing of products we use daily, but when people cut back on those new I-phones among other things in this deep recession, the need for silver in manufacturing will also drop, thus balancing the lack of supply against a lack of demand.

    Now, lets get to the crash. Ask yourself this, who is going to have funds to purchase anything that is manufactured which has silver in it? When people are dumpster-diving for dinner they are not purchasing “Products”. No Solar Panels, No I-phones, No computers. When you can’t pay your rent you are not purchasing anything that does not support your life.

    IE: Silver will not climb like you believe, because its use will be diminished to such an extent that there will not be a shortage, (commonly thought to raise the price of an item). Gold on the other hand, in manufacturing, is being mainly used in jewelry, which will also take a hit but so small as to appear negligible in its pricing.

    My bet is still with Gold as the true hedge against the dollar collapse. Even with the predicted 800% increase in Silver to $150 an ounce, it is still not much of an investment for most people. A few coins here, a 10oz. bar there, won’t get you much of a stay against starvation in the long run when the price of that Silver also collapse for lack of sales of the products which contain it.

    I must reiterate, that my opinion is based on the collapse of the dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

    • I agree with you, but it occurred to my mind

      What if gold went to a much higher price that is not enough to satisfy the buyers’ demand, wouldn’t people look for silver?

    • By the size and amount of today’s available above ground physical silver as well as in the future , Rumplestiltskin , I very much disagree. On top of that there’s also allot of recalculations that have to be made concerning the gross manipulation of phony paper silver computations and their relation to totally misrepresenting true pricing for silver overall.
      Due to so much malfeasance we all might be shocked as to the outcome with physical silver rocketing upwards.

  9. “When you add up all of these silver factors, I believe 2016 could surprise investors even though we are currently experiencing a short-term bullion bank precious metal price take-down.”

    I suspect the most likely factor for a rise in G & S valuations in fiat this year will be precipitous declines in the stock and bond markets. Not primarily a loss of ability to manipulate prices, although that could fall if stocks collapse enough.

    A comment above:

    ” A few coins here, a 10oz. bar there, won’t get you much of a stay against starvation in the long run when the price of that Silver also collapse for lack of sales of the products which contain it.”

    The price of silver will not collapse if SOME industries using silver use less. We just read that [smart or not] many tons of silver will be going into silver, and in the next stock market or sovereign debt debacle, investment buying will explode.

  10. ” When people are dumpster-diving for dinner they are not purchasing “Products”. No Solar Panels, No I-phones, No computers. When you can’t pay your rent you are not purchasing anything that does not support your life.”

    Point taken and this is exactly why those who stack must also hoard survival food, medical supplies, water, guns/ammo, cash, etc. before the crash arrives. Another reason for everyone to convert 0’s & 1’s from online bank accounts to real wealth was on the news this morning…

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/24/us-charges-iranians-with-cyber-attacks-on-banks-and-dam.html

  11. Steve, like many other metals analysts, is keen to point out massive demand for solar infrastructure projects in China and India, and these numbers are poised only to rise as the world is swept by the top-down, centrally-managed “sustainable vision” laid forth at the Rio ’92 conference.

    So ignoring entirely, as these metals analysts do (to their own detriment), the fact that the centrally planned Chinese economic vision for energy and the equally top-down Anglo-American dominated United Nations are lock-step in their desire for “sustainable development,” why does NO ONE broach the topic of silver recycling for solar?

    Sure, SRSRocco can easily dismiss the push towards Technocratic, “sustainable” development by promoting the fraud of peak oil – but again, setting that aside, why is the coverage of industrial silver demand for solar so disingenuous? These panels have a lifespan, with current technology, of roughly 10-15 years until output halves and continues to decay. Some owners, institutional or individual, will simply add more panels to offset their loss in production, but most will simply recycle their old panels to subsidize the cost for new ones.

    The recovery rate for this silver from panels? 100%. Yes, that’s right, every bloody ounce can be stripped, melted down, and shoved into a new PV circuit. The silicon inside is now useless, the lithium requires tremendous input to recycle efficiently and safely, but the silver, copper, and other metals in the panels themselves are easily recoverable.

    Most of these solar infrastructure projects, unlike in the West where individual buyers make up a healthy percentage of the market, are run either by .gov politbureaus or pseudo-corporations operating as arms of the Chinese/Indian government. CCB is one such prominent Chinese example of thinly-veiled State run solar investment banks, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve recently joined the “new” silver fix. Of course, no coverage from this angle in alternative finance media, merely blathering on about “CHINA NOW CONTROLLING THE SILVER FIX OMFG.”

    No, Chinese and Indian silver demand for solar investment is not “taking silver off the market.” It’s not tossing it in floating islands of trash in such minuscule amounts that it is unrecoverable. Every ounce is accounted for and can be recycled INFINITELY into new panels or back into investment demand, should the need arise. Once these solar infrastructure projects (run exclusively in the East by collectivist government branches who own these panels and the silver within them outright) are complete, the only need for new silver in solar will be to account for expanding populations. As electronic equipment becomes increasingly energy-efficient and China’s 80/20 male to female population ratio begins to rear its ugly head, this number, too, will significantly decrease.

    This is without considering the profitability of these massive PV installations, which as the article points out, are notorious for their net losses, demonstrating yet again that the best use for solar and wind energy is on small scales and in ideal environments. What this article does a terrible job of, however, is considering this silver “consumed” when it’s actually recoverable ad infinitum. Equally troublesome is the base assumption that Eastern PV production will continue unabated when simple demographics and a bit of knowledge about solar recycling spits in the face of this thesis.

    • Rusticus,

      You bring up some interesting points, but when we factor in the EROI- ENERGY RETURNED ON INVESTED, they become meaningless. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the facts.

      The energy to remove panels, ship, recycle and then make new solar panels is at a higher energy cost than making them originally. This is what people don’t realize.

      Lastly, your notion that PEAK OIL is a fraud comes from not understanding the concept of the FALLING EROI. Once you educate yourself of the EROI, you will realize not only are we peaking in oil production, but the collapse will likely resemble a SHARK FIN.

      steve

      • Steve,

        I’ve read your work for years now and assure you, I understand your EROI theory quite well and believe a study of these ratios to be important. I don’t, however, wish to get into an argument with you about oil’s truly abiotic nature nor the contrivance and historical continuity of the “Peak Oil” promotion team starting with M. King Hubbert through to the very people in control of our financial system today, not only because I’ve seen how these spats end in the comments section but also because your work tends to ignore the geopolitical machinations of the Anglo-American Establishment entirely. That’s normally not a “good” or “bad” thing, but an overtly politicized theory such as peak oil must include a study of its sociological history as well as a geological one, the latter of which is explored here ad nauseam while the former is ignored entirely, to the great detriment of the analysis. Just one man’s equally blunt opinion, glad you’re the type who doesn’t take it personally.

        What I’m wondering about solar specifically is how this formula truly works out, as silver in a solar panel isn’t really “invested”; it’s far more akin to a high-tech bullion bank deposit that returns “energy interest” in kw/H terms. So roughly, you’re looking at a formula that looks something like:

        (kw/H over 15 years + Silver per OZ) – (Fabrication Costs + Recycling Costs) = Total Return

        With panels producing more today than ever before and fabrication costs at all-time lows, even without government subsidies, the recycling cost for the metals themselves is minimal. In fact, it’s the only part of panel recycling that can be done quickly, cheaply, and with a 100% recovery rate! The high-cost aspect of recycling lies in glass and reusing laser-etched silicon wafers, of which countries like China and India have a virtually endless supply of on their ocean beds.

        So you’ve made the statement, “The energy to remove panels, ship, recycle and then make new solar panels is at a higher energy cost than making them originally.” What I’m asking is do you KNOW this to be true? You’re such a data-driven guy and you make all these wonderful charts, have you actually run these numbers using something akin to the above formula? Even ignoring the massive subsidization of these programs by the “lean, clean, and green” (their words, not mine) AIIB/BRICS/ChIMF, running the actual numbers here will surprise you. The net return is surely higher with silver sitting in panels than it is sitting in some vault in Shanghai, at least as long as humanity is forced ad-hoc into “sustainability” as it currently exists.

        Just looking at the consumer market for panels I find your assumptions questionable – a 100 watt panel can be had for just over $100 at today’s prices, and solar wholesales routinely sell “defective” panels at $40, meaning the fabrication cost has to be lower than that or else they’d be repairing panels themselves. Under ideal conditions, that 100 watt panel will produce 500 watt/H per day over the course of its decade+ lifespan. Even if we’re generous and we factor in the fabrication costs at the higher retail price, even if we’re EXTRA generous and quote the cost of recycling at DOUBLE the retail sticker price, even if we consider that half of those days over the multi-decade lifespan will be overcast (which doesn’t mean zero production anymore, just less), your figures don’t work.

        The numbers just don’t add up the way you’re saying they do.

        Heck, I’m just one guy out in the wilderness with a cabin, and my solar setup (including batteries, sine wave converters, inverters, and copper lines) has already paid for itself in 3 1/2 years, unsubsidized! So much has changed in panel efficiency and battery capacity/longevity over the past 10 years that comparing today’s panels to ones produced in the early/mid 2000s is like comparing the first dual-core processors to the first Pentium line – they do the same job, but the former does it much better thanks to a 10 year innovation gap.

        And this is coming from someone who loathes these large-scale solar and wind setups and agrees with your general thesis of their centralized stupidity and cost-prohibitiveness; but the bottleneck is and remains the STORAGE of this energy (battery technology), not the collection (panels), as I’ve learned firsthand. “Modern” lithium battery technology will turn 25 this year, and it’s only within the last two years that large-capacity versions suited for PV have been commercially developed.

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