* More than 1.1 million troy ounces of silver sold in Jan
* Selling everything that can be currently made in silver- Mint
* Short-squeeze story boosted demand for physical silver-analyst
* Gold sales dropped nearly 1% from December (Recasts, adds comments, details, graphic)
Feb 4 (Reuters) - Australia’s Perth Mint said on Thursday its January silver coin sales jumped 23.5% from the previous month, boosted by a robust demand for the white metal spurred by a social media-led buying spree that commenced towards the end of the month.
The refiner sold more than 1.1 million troy ounces of silver last month, its highest since October, it said in a blog post.
Silver’s demand peaked during the last days of January after small investors responded to calls on Reddit and other social media platforms to pile into the market and push up prices.
The retail boost powered prices to a near eight-year peak of $30.03 an ounce on Monday.
“The short squeeze story that has been unwinding for the past couple of days definitely boosted demand for physical silver,” said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda.
But an underlying demand for silver was already existing, not just because precious metals are considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement, but also helped by rising industrial demand and looming supply deficit, Rodda said.
Investors expect silver’s demand to get a boost from U.S. President Joe Biden’s green policies, as the metal is widely used in the production of solar panels and wind turbines.
“January was a better month for coin production at the Perth Mint. Even so, we are still selling everything that we can currently make in silver,” said Neil Vance, general manager - minted products.
Maintenance issues that previously restricted manufacturing capacity had unwound during the month, he said.
Sales of gold coins and minted bars, however, declined to 76,103 troy ounces, a near 1% drop from December, but increased almost 60% from an year ago.
The Mint, owned by the government of Western Australia, refines more than 90% of the newly mined gold in Australia, one of the world’s top gold producers.
Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Rashmi Aich
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