China’s exports of refined tin stood at 1,198 mt in January, soaring about 100% from a year earlier and notching the highest monthly record since 2010, the International Tin Association (ITRI) reported based on data from China Customs.
Tin prices on the London Metal Exchange surged since December 2018, from a low of $18,145/mt to a nearly one-year high of $21,800/mt. Prices in the Chinese market, however, saw much smaller gains due to relatively high inventories. This widened the price spreads and bolstered exports of tin ingots and tin products from China.
ITRI learned that margins on some tin products could reach 10,000 yuan/mt. January’s exports of tin products are expected to expand to about 1,000 mt.
The nation’s imports of tin ores and concentrates totalled 30,719 mt in January, with 29,389 mt from Myanmar, ITRI also reported.
Tin ore shipments from Myanmar in January are estimated to contain 7,100 mt of tin, up 48% month on month but down 36% year on year.
The gross weight of materials from other countries totalled 1,329 mt in January, including 565 mt from Laos and 526 mt from Australia.
January’s tin ore shipments from Myanmar increased substantially from December, as miners cleared stocks to pay workers’ salaries and fulfil debt obligations before the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday.
Myanmar tin ore shipments, however, sharply declined on a yearly basis. Tin ore shipments from Myanmar stood at 11,900 mt in the two months before the 2019 CNY holiday (December 2018 and January 2019), down by some 50% from the same period before the 2018 CNY holiday.
With the holiday impact, February shipments are expected to remain low, which is likely to tighten supplies of tin raw materials in March. ITRI expects mining activities in Myanmar to resume normal levels around mid-March.
The accident at a mining company in northern China's Inner Mongolia on Saturday that killed 22 people is expected to shrink tin ore supplies in China, which have already been tight.
The mine is called Baiyinchagan, owned by Yinman Mining Co., Ltd, which was founded in 2005 and was acquired by Xingye Group, a listed company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, in 2016.
ITRI data showed that the Baiyinchagan mine produced about 7,000 mt of tin-in-concentrate in 2018, accounting for about 8% of the total in China. Market participants estimate the accident may cause Baiyinchagan mine to cease operations for about 3 months to 1 year.