The world’s largest refined tin producer in 2019, Indonesia’s PT Timah, has announced it will target refined tin sales of 55kt in 2020, compared to 67.7kt in 2019. In March 2020, PT Timah announced temporary 20-30% cuts to monthly refined tin production and restrictions to exports. These measures were taken in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and increasing uncertainties over refined tin prices, with LME cash prices bottoming out at US$13,375/t in March 2020, a four-year low.
In separate news, Namibian tin miner, AfriTin Mining, has re-established production at the Uis tin mine, after a ten-week suspension to operations due to COVID-19.
PT Timah produced 76.4kt of refined tin in 2019, a 128.7% y-on-y increase on the 33.4kt of refined tin the company produced in 2018. This increase made PT Timah the world’s largest refined tin producer in 2019, overtaking China’s Yunnan Tin’s refined tin production of 72kt. Yunnan Tin has not announced any similar measures in response to COVID-19 and, due to the company’s status as state-owned, remained in operation throughout China’s COVID-19 lockdown period. Whilst no updated production targets have been announced in addition to the updated sale targets, Roskill expects PT Timah to drop down once again to the second largest producer of refined tin for 2020.
AfriTin was one of several primary tin producers forced to suspend operations due to government regulations, in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Many operations have now returned to production in addition to AfriTin, with major tin producers Minsur, Malaysia Smelting Corporation and Mineração Taboca resuming operations in April and May 2020.
Tin prices have rallied in recent weeks. In early June 2020, LME cash prices rose to above US$17,000/t for the first time since January 2020, peaking at US$17,285/t. However, with uncertainties over refined tin demand set to remain throughout the second half of 2020, this price recovery may be short-lived.
Roskill’s NEW Tin: Outlook to 2030, 12th Edition report will be published in August 2020. For more information or to pre-order, click here.