In China, the majority of tin smelters are concentrated in Yunnan province, in the southwest of the country. The province is also home to a number of zinc and aluminum smelters. In early May, the Yunnan Power Grid issued a notice to all companies to reduce their electricity consumption due to production issues.
Hydropower is the main source of electricity in Yunnan province, supplemented by coal, wind, and solar power. However, due to droughts in the region this year, water levels in the main reservoirs have been severely reduced. Combined with a reduction in coal storage, Yunnan has struggled to keep power generation at usual levels. As a result, smelters in the region are being asked to reduce their power consumption.
In order to cope with the limited power capacity, all major enterprises in Yunnan province have been forced to reduce consumption. According to ITA research, only private smelters will be impacted and will have to cease both smelting and refining activities.
Our view: Currently, heavy rains are forecast for June, which will refill the hydropower reservoirs. However, it is unknown how long this will take, and smelters are currently in the dark about restarting. Currently, ITA estimates that smelters will be closed for some 10 to 20 days, impacting some 1,000 – 2,000 tonnes of refined tin production.