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“Tin: New sources, new apps” by Peter Kettle (ITRI) in the Mining Journal

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Commodities, Exploration, Mining, Recommended


My good friend, Peter Kettle, Manager of Market Statistics & Market Studies at ITRI (International Tin Research Institute) has written an excellent guest article for the Mining Journal providing an overview of the tin industry and how the current market fundamentals are conspiring to create an opportunity for explorers and developers of new tin deposits.

In the article Peter discusses the strong growth that has occurred in tin demand since the turn of the millennium, as the solder industry switched from lead to tin for environmental reasons. Whilst this demand growth has now steadied tin supply has yet to catch up, and is in fact falling, leading to the recent few years of historically high prices and presenting an opportunity to bring new tin supply on stream.

Due to cost and environmental pressures tin mine supply from artisanal and alluvial operations in Indonesia is declining, whilst similar pressures have led to stalling hard rock mine supply growth in China. The two countries represent around two-thirds of global tin mine supply. The temporary supply growth that came from Central Africa has now also stalled as the issue of conflict minerals is addressed. Looking further into the future the closure of the San Rafael mine in Peru, which supplies around 10% of the world’s tin, from 2017 or 2018 will add further pressure to the supply gap.

Peter then goes on to discuss what sort of new supply may come on stream, including the increasing number of junior companies operating in the sector, the typical grades and operating costs of the projects, the reliance on by-products and a number of other factors. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications for long term tin prices.

The article can be found on the Mining Journal website, though you would need a subscription, as well as the Friday 22nd March hard copy edition of the magazine.

If you do not have a subscription to the Mining Journal you can perhaps browse some of the other tin articles found on the website. I do a lot of work with ITRI including some of the research discussed in this Mining Journal article. For those more interested in the subject and requiring more detailed work, ITRI and Greenfields Research are currently preparing a report on the future of tin mine supply. We also collaborated for the ITRI Tin Industry Review 2011: Tin at the crossroads, which discusses long term tin supply, demand and prices, and is available through the ITRI website.