Customs figures released last week show that the gross weight of China’s tin ore and concentrate imports in October totalled 36,515 tonnes (estimated at 4,300t contained tin), up 35% year-on-year and more than double the September total. Over 99% of imports originated from Myanmar, where local production has recovered to pre-rainy season levels following the September dip.
Total imports for the first 10 months of 2016 amounted to 383,690 tonnes (of which 382,324 tonnes, or some 45,000t contained tin was from Myanmar), up by 83% compared to the same period of last year. China’s refined tin imports also rose to 1,237 tonnes in October, rising by 13.9% compared to September (up 55% year-on-year). Refined tin imports for the January to October period totalled 7,789 tonnes, down 4.9% on the same period of 2015. Tin exports during the month totalled just 1 tonne, bringing year-to-October exports to 728 tonnes.
ITRI View: The recovery in imports of tin concentrate and ore from Myanmar was expected, following a September dip in production from the Man Maw mining area in Wa county as a result of the rainy season. ITRI expects production from Wa in 2017 to fall to below 50,000 tonnes next year as a result of resource depletion and falling ore grades. The region accounts for over 95% of Myanmar production. We do not expect that a Reuters report today linking Wa tin production to US sanctions will have any significant impact on production or trade in tin in the immediate future. The sanctions relate to historical allegations of involvement by officials in the illegal drugs trade.