The already tight tin concentrate market in China has been dealt a further blow after a mine collapsed near the city of Hechi, Guangxi province, killing two and trapping a further 11 people.
At about 6:30 on 28 October, the roof at a mine owned by Qingdaxiyuan Mining Investment Co., Ltd, collapsed. The local government announced that, after an initial search, two people had been killed, with a further 11 people trapped inside the mine. In response to the collapse, the authorities have initiated an emergency response, asking local mines to cease production and to undergo safety inspections.
Guangxi China Tin, one of the local mines and the second largest tin mining company in China, produces most of its tin concentrate from the region. The company has only just begun mining following maintenance in September, but is once again unable to produce. In 2018, Guangxi China Tin’s total mine production was around 15,000 tonnes, 95% of which came from Hechi.
The accident comes at a time when China’s tin concentrate market is experiencing marked tightness. However, in response, China’s imports of tin concentrate and refined tin both increased in September. According to the latest customs data, China imported 5,700 tonnes of tin-in-concentrate during September, 95% of which came from Myanmar. Total imports were up 58% month-on-month (MoM) and 46% -year-on-year (YoY). China also imported some 134 tonnes of refined tin in September, up 224% MoM and 59% YoY.
Our view: The date after which mines can resume production has not yet been set, but it is likely that the required safety inspections could take up to a month. It is unlikely that the affected mine will begin producing again this year. As a result of the further-tightened market, we expect China to continue to increase its tin imports, both in the form of concentrate and refined metal, and it is likely that China will remain a net importer for the remainder of the year.