China’s tin concentrate imports increased by 170% year-on-year to 27,043t (gross weight) in October, according to the latest official data. 96% of the imports were from Myanmar. China imported 209,356t tin concentrate in January to October in 2015, up by 68%. Of that, 204,214t was from Myanmar, containing around 32,000t tin metal.
Although the China concentrate imports have increased considerably this year, this has been more than offset by the fall of mine production and scrap supply in China. Some mines with high costs have been closed, while secondary refined tin production is estimated to have been reduced by more than 25% this year. Most custom smelters have reported their refined tin production has been cut by 10% – 50% in recent months because of the constant fall of tin price. This has allowed them to reduce stocks in past few months to deal with the further drop of price. The China Nonferrous Metals Association (CNIA) reported that refined tin production in China fell by 3.2% to 122,074t in January to September. ITRI estimates that the decline will be bigger in the whole year given the lower price in October and November. Our latest estimation for China refined tin production this year is 162,000t, down by 7% year-on-year.
China imported 733t refined tin in October, a bit higher than in September. Total imports of refined tin were 7,510t in January to October, up by 18% year on year. Most of the imports in October were likely to have been under long-term contracts or involved in processing for re-export, because the China price was much lower than LME price in the month. Exports from China in past few months were quite low, both according to the official statistics or as deduced from the imports of third countries. Cumulative exports in January to October are estimated to be below 3,000t.