The price of tin has risen in recent months, mainly due to the announcement of the closure of tin mines in Myanmar. According to the Central Economic Planning Committee of the Wa State in Myanmar, from 1st August 2023, tin mining will stop to preserve the tin field. Prices have risen, but no official information about the closure has yet been received. Myanmar is one of the key tin suppliers to China, the largest tin consumer in the world, accounting for about 77% of tin ore and concentrate imported by China. According to Mintec’s sources, market players have started stockpiling because of the likely mine closures, causing prices to rise since June.
Consequently, the 3-month LME tin price rose to $28,387/MT in July, up 8% month-on-month, representing a 14% year-on-year increase. The rising price trend and the prospect of a market shortage fuelled the growth of LME tin inventories, which almost doubled in July compared to the previous month, up 23% year-on-year.
Demand for tin is growing, mainly due to increased demand for electronic components. Tin is used to produce printed circuit boards, which are the main component of electronic devices. Indeed, computer hardware sales in the US, the EU and China had a combined growth of 3% in 2022. Therefore, robust demand remains the fundamental driver for tin prices. The price of tin bottomed in October 2022, after which the market maintained an upward trend; thus, the recent prospect of supply cuts from Myanmar is an additional driver in the tin market.
With Myanmar being a significant exporter of tin ore and concentrate to China, the news of potential closures has impacted prices considerably, and market participants have stated that China must significantly diversify its tin ore supply to cover any deficit.