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The performance of silver so far in 2013 has been nothing short of terrible. The metal, as represented by (SLV - ETF report), has lost a little over a third of its value since the start of the year, with a double digit loss seen in the past month alone.

And if investors look over to the silver mining ETF (SIL - ETF report), the results are arguably even more depressing. While this ETF has ‘only’ lost about 5.4% in the past month, the product has crashed by nearly 47% YTD, underscoring the collapse in the industry in 2013.

This pessimism is further reflected by the Zacks Industry Rank for the sector, as silver mining actually has the worst Rank out of  any industry (at time of writing), bar none. Not a single stock in the segment has a Rank better than a 3, while only three of the 13 companies in the space do not have a rank of 4 (Sell) or lower (these include (AG - Snapshot Report), (MVG - Snapshot Report), and (SVLC - Snapshot Report).

Although this is a pretty poor situation, one could argue that there is at least a little reason for optimism. Recently silver miners shot up on hopes that the precious metal slide was overdone, and that analysts slashed their estimates for silver prices—and thus silver miner profits—too far.

If silver and gold start to stabilize around these levels, one could argue that estimates will need to come up for the space, and that the Ranks for stocks in the silver mining world will necessarily need to rise. Plus, with decent levels of industrial production and a more sluggish dollar lately, a bounce back in silver from these levels can’t be ruled out either.

But what do you think?

Are hopes for raised estimates based on analysts slashing too far just wishful thinking? Or does this space have further to fall?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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