In a resolute move, the Wa State government has firmly enforced the suspension of all mining activities, according to the “Wa Jing Zi No. 2023-06” notice issued by the Central Economic Commission on April 15 and the subsequent “Notice on the Implementation of ‘Suspension of All Mineral Resources Exploitation'” on May 20.

Effective from August 1, 2023, all mines and processing plants, regardless of size, have ceased production. The majority of local workers have been temporarily dismissed, and ore transport vehicles are prohibited from operation to prevent any raw ore transportation. A working group will enforce the suspension with mine inspections.

Top leaders of Wa State convened to discuss the mining ban although no formal statement has yet been released.

Currently, it is reported that the Wa State government has approximately two million physical tonnes of mined raw ore stocks, with an estimated beneficiation potential of 5,000-6,000 metal tonnes of tin concentrate. However, due to the shutdown of the dressing plant, beneficiation and sales of concentrate products have been halted. Additionally, around 1,500 metal tonnes of tin ore are awaiting clearance at the Meng’a Port, potentially leading to a period of stagnation in exports after August 10.

The market’s previous expectations of one to three months for the suspension now seem overly optimistic, as the Wa State Government is clearly committed to policy enforcement. An expectation that processing of stockpiles could still go ahead appears to have been quashed by the ban on ore transport. Reopening of mines may also now take longer.

July exports from Wa State were significantly up as local traders cashed in inventories ahead of the ban. Until Wa State resumes normal production, China smelting raw material supply is expected to gradually decrease, making it challenging to return to the production levels experienced in the first half of this year.