Bolivia’s tin output remained fairly stable in the first quarter of 2018, according to official government statistics, with the output of refined tin up 1.3% year-on-year to 3,858 tonnes and tin mine production effectively unchanged at 4,375 tonnes.
Refined tin production rose at both the state-owned Vinto tin smelter, up 1.4% year-on-year to 2,902 tonnes, and at the private smelter, OMSA, up 0.8% to 956 tonnes. While overall tin mine production remained stable, production from state-owned mines fell 2.3% year-on-year to 2,693 tonnes, offset by a 7.6% increase from Cooperatives to 635 tonnes. The output from privately run mines rose by 0.8% to 1,046 tonnes.
Despite production remaining fairly stable, officially reported exports of tin fell by 11.9% year-on-year to 3,204 tonnes in Q1, indicating an increase in domestic stocks of refined tin either in storage or in transit. Shipments may also be disrupted in late June and early July as a result of maintenance work at the Vinto tin smelter in June.
Our view: Bolivian refined tin output totalled 16,120 tonnes in 2017, down 4.1% from the previous year. Raw material availability continues to limit output, with the two major state-owned tin mines struggling with ageing processing facilities while the construction and commissioning of new processing infrastructure have been subject to repeated delays. Vinto is targeting 13,000 tonnes of refined tin output in 2018, while we are forecasting total Bolivian production of 16,500 tonnes.