China imports of tin ores and concentrates totalled 44,798 tonnes in January with 44,298 tonnes from Myanmar, according to the latest official customs statistics. The estimated tin content of shipments from Myanmar in January was 11,100 tonnes, only 200 tonnes less than December and up about 80% year-on-year
The gross weight of China’s tin ore imports from other countries in January totalled 500 tonnes, including 394 tonnes from Laos and 84 tonnes from Brazil. The trade data also revealed that refined tin and tin alloy imports in January totalled 288 tonnes, while exports totalled 568 tonnes and tin product exports totalled 409 tonnes.
Our View: The 2018 Spring Festival in mid-February was more than half a month later than last year, so sales of concentrate stocks to pay worker salaries and fulfil debt obligations ahead of the holiday remained an important factor behind higher shipments in January. According to reports by the local suppliers, the stock of tin concentrates in Myanmar is still substantial. Therefore, although shipments to China in February were likely affected by the Spring Festival, we expect they will recover strongly in March. Shipments could decline from April as the impact of lower tin mining activity in Myanmar impacts trade. Without the discovery of new deposits this year, we strongly believe that supply from Myanmar will decline more significantly in the second half of the year. Our preliminary forecast for Myanmar’s shipments to China in 2018 is 54,000 tonnes; subject to a wide margin of error.