Tin is widely used in the production of solder, chemicals, tin plate and lead acid batteries. Tin is predominantly produced by China and Indonesia, which together account for nearly 60% of global production.
Global tin prices experienced a significant increase from 2005 to 2011, driven almost entirely by the rapid demand growth from the 3C (Computer, Communication and Consumer Electronics) market. More recently, global tin prices have reflected subdued demand growth and an abundance of concentrate supply, predominantly from Manmaw, in Myanmar’s Wa State, although recent drawdowns in visible global inventories have raised some eyebrows.
Imports of concentrate into China over the past four years (to 2019) have been dominated by Myanmar, with dozens of Chinese companies, mostly traders, swarming into the region in the early years to take advantage of the emerging opportunity. Myanmar exported over 50kt of contained tin each year into China between 2014 and 2018.
Over the past year, however, Myanmar’s supply has shown the early signs of depletion, reflecting a likely drop in grades and, in our view, adding further interest to the global supply base. CM’s most recent research concluded that production out of the Myanmar’s Manmaw region peaked in 2017, at around 65kt contained tin, and will continue to fall away gradually over the short to medium term, leading to supply-side headwinds and a potential increase in longer-term prices.
CM began its research into global tin supply and demand in 2013 and deepened its analysis in each subsequent year by conducting several deep-diving, comprehensive field studies to major production regions, including Bangka Belitung in Indonesia, Gejiu in China, Malaysia and, naturally, Myanmar. CM’s most recent tin industry report, the “Outlook for the Global Tin Industry”.