China imported 3,990 tonnes of refined tin in October, the highest level since April 2009, according to China Customs data. Most of imports were from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The China domestic tin price has remained at a big premium to the LME from August until now, attracting a large refined tin flow into the country. The total refined tin import has reached 9,200 tonnes in the three months from August to October, bringing the cumulative import volume in the year to date to 14,731 tonnes, up by 3.4% compared to January-October last year.
We estimate that imports will remain at a robust level this month, since the premium of domestic tin prices to LME was still high in the first half of November and part of delayed shipments from previous months are now arriving. But the differential between China and the LME has been narrowed with the decline of China price in the second half of this month, and the consumption is reported to be soft currently, so the import level in November and December will be lower than in October.
China imported 1,258 tonnes of tin concentrate (gross weight) in October, up by 8.4% y/y. The total import in January-October increased by 40% y/y to 20, 765 tonnes). The main contributor to the rise was neighbouring Myanmar, which supplied 16,858 tonnes (gross weight), up by 300% on last year, although we understand that this is very low grade material.