SHANGHAI, Apr 27 (SMM) – China’s tin ore imports in March saw a sharp year-on-year drop of over 60% due to lower production in Myanmar and its declining grades.
The slowdown in global tin ore production growth also accounted for the import drop, SMM believes.
In the spot market, the supply shortage has been felt and in-plant inventories were reported to be low at several smelters, sources told SMM. Tin production is also forecast to be lower in May from April.
China’s tin ore imports are reliant on resources from Myanmar, which takes up some 99.2% of total imports.
However, the grade of Burmese tin ore fell from above 5% in 2012-2015 to a low of 1.5-2% last year. As the ore with a grade of over 4% on the surface was exhausted, mining has had to go deeper underground, leading to higher costs.
In addition, the country’s reserve could be depleted in the next two to three years, a senior official was quoted as saying in media reports.
SMM forecast tin ore supply from Myanmar to see a drop of some 10,000 mt this year.
Customs data showed China imported 72,363 mt of tin ore during the first three months of this year.
Global tin ore production growth is forecast to slow down to 1.8% annually, from 2%, from 2018 to 2026, according to BMI Research. This is due to more stringent environmental regulations in Indonesia and declining ore grades in China, Indonesia and Myanmar.
China’s the world’s largest consumer of tin, and 65% of its consumption comes from solder. China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Brazil, Bolivia, Australia and Malaysia own the majority of the globe’s tin ore resources.
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