China imported 1,615 tonnes refined tin in January, according to latest China Customs data. This was less than half of December’s level, and the biggest month-on-month decline of all the base metals. The refined tin imported was mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.
The fall of imports is partly due to the narrowed gap between China and LME prices in January, as well as soft demand and the earlier timing of Spring Festival holidays. ITRI also believes that some tin imported since the start of this year may be held in bonded warehouses and therefore not yet counted in the official trade statistics.
In January China imported 1,282 tonnes of tin concentrate (gross weight), down by 83% year-on-year. But tin contained in concentrate didn’t decrease as much as the change in gross weight, since last January’s imports mainly consisted of the low grade concentrates from Burma. This January the main source has been Bolivia, accounting for 65% of the total.