Data gathered by ITRI reveals estimated global primary tin smelting feed capacity of 1,080,000 tonnes, with refined tin production capacity of 633,000 tonnes. Clear tin smelting overcapacity is shown by average utilisation rates in 2015 calculated at 47%, rising to 70% with the exclusion of Indonesia. Indonesia and China have the most excess capacity, primarily due to falling domestic mine production and decreasing tin concentrate availability.
The global study involved collection of survey responses on a range of questions relating to primary smelting and refining. After supplementing the data with publicly available information over 98% of primary refined tin production in 2015 was represented.
Responses indicated that a 5% forecast fall in primary refined tin production is anticipated in 2016, with South America the only region for which an increase in production is expected. The weighted average of tin content in discarded slag was 1.4% Sn, with a range of 0.2% to 4.0%, while plant tin recoveries to final product averaged 97%, although Chinese data was incomplete for both.
Fluctuations in the tin price, adequacy of raw material supply, the environment and regulatory developments were cited by participants as the main factors and challenges affecting operations now and looking forward.