Three weeks into Wa State’s mining ban, new information has surfaced, highlighting plans to approve processing plants and changes to mineral rights ownership.

As the cessation of all mining activities since 1st August has seen ore transport vehicles grounded and countless local workers temporarily laid off, the tin market has been keenly awaiting further details on Wa State’s future plans to recommence production.

In a document seen by ITA from the Wa Central Economic Planning Committee (EPC) dated 21st August 2023, there is added clarity on the ongoing situation. By 30th August, the mine owner is set to collaborate with the Central Affairs Committee to gain approval for mineral processing. The Central Affairs Committee will subsequently report back to the EPC, who will then register the processing plant. Details regarding the location, equipment, and scale are expected to be registered by the end of the month.

However, the situation for miners remains uncertain. The EPC has not yet communicated specifics about when and how mineral prospecting and production might resume. The mining ban remains in full force.

The report also underscores changes to mineral rights ownership in Wa State. The ownership of ore mined and brought to the surface before 1st August will remain with the mine owner. Conversely, all ore still in the mine, including that which has already been extracted, now belongs to the EPC.

Upon obtaining the requisite approval, processing plants can process their ore concentrates externally. The processing of ore still owned by the mine owner is subject to a 30% tax-in-kind. The Central Affairs Committee will oversee the verification of taxes paid, with stringent penalties for any discrepancies, including the potential for confiscation.

Our view: China’s dependence on Myanmar for tin-in-concentrate imports remains substantial. Shipments surged to 5,000 metal tonnes in July, as local traders offloaded inventories ahead of the ban. However, a marked decline is projected for August. China’s raw material supply for smelting is anticipated to decrease, hinting at potential challenges in maintaining the production levels observed earlier this year.

As of the 18th August, SHFE stocks of refined tin have fallen by 12.5% since 4th August, however, levels remain elevated. It is unclear to what extent this is related to the mining suspension with major smelters undergoing maintenance in the same period.