ITA held its annual Asia Tin Week event in September, located this year in the city of Xi’an, China. Over 250 delegates gathered at the event to discuss the tin market as well as future applications and sources of tin. The occasion also celebrated the tenth anniversary of ITA’s China office.
Asia Tin Week was opened by a collection of prominent figures in the tin industry: David Bishop and Cui Lin of ITA; Mr. Erzaldi Rosman Djohan, Governor of Bangka Belitung province, Indonesia; Ms. Yang Yimin, General Manager of YTC; Mr. Qi Feng, Chairman of Guangxi China Tin; and Mr. Zhang Zhiyong, senior manager of the Shanghai Futures Exchange. All speakers highlighted the benefit of working together through ITA to promote tin use and sustainable supply, while Mr. Djohan reinforced the role of the Bangka Belitung government in the efforts to reduce illegal mining and exports of tin and to provide more stable supply.
Presentations from both Ms. Gao Shan, Director of CRU Strategic Consulting China, and James Willoughby, Market Analyst at ITA, highlighted the currently turbulent macroeconomic picture. However, whilst there is significant uncertainty short-term, both speakers concluded that in the mid-longer term there were positives for base metals – and specifically tin – including a stronger dollar and Chinese economic stimuli.
Mr. Wu Jianxun, Deputy General Manager of YTC, spoke about the company’s position in the Chinese tin market, as well as the current market position. He indicated that while downstream sectors are being affected by the macroeconomic situation, the decline in supply within China will likely exceed the decline in demand.
Speaking about PT Timah’s operations and sustainability efforts, Mr. Alwin Albar highlighted the reprocessing of low grade tin ores as a new source of tin which has a low environmental impact. Mr Albar also updated delegates on progress at the Batu Besi mine, which is expected to begin operating in October.
Mr. Juan Luis Kruger, CEO of Minsur S.A., detailed the company’s commitment to sustainability through its “SusTINable” initiative. Reliable supply is a major part of the initiative, and on this front, Minsur has integrated ore-sorting technology into its processing flows and is finalising development at the B2 tailings re-treatment project for operation in Q4.
On the downstream side, Dr. Jeremy Pearce spoke about the impact of miniaturisation in electronics; while it is currently causing tin use in solder to plateau, this effect will likely end in the medium-term future, and the solder market will experience significant growth. Furthermore, Dr. Pearce highlighted new sectors in which tin will play a critical role, including 5G, the Internet of Things and energy storage.
Speaking in more detail about the application of tin solder in 5G technology, Mr. Liu Zhe, Chief Engineer of Process Technology research at ZTE Corporation, emphasised the opportunity for tin in this market, despite some technical challenges.
Higher purity tin will play a key role in the development of the industry, according to Mr. Jonathan Lund, Sales Director at Thaisarco, and Mr Liu Xixue, Senior Engineer at Beijing COMPO. The technical properties of higher-purity tin will help to increase the reliability of microelectronic solder joints, as well as decrease impurities in glass screens for electronics.
Overall, delegates at the event agreed that the current market situation was proving difficult for business, both upstream and downstream, but that there were important opportunities for tin in the medium- to long-term future.