Tin prices have rebounded since March. Prices fell sharply earlier this year but they have now found stability in Q2. As we pointed out in February, that month presented a good opportunity to buy tin. During bull markets, it’s good to time your purchases after a price pullback.
Indonesian Exports Up
According to the ITRI, Indonesian tin exports for 2016 fell 9.4% compared to 2015 as Indonesia tightened its rules for tin exports.
However, the export permit process has been far smoother this year. For the first quarter, exports were up by 3.1% compared to the final quarter of 2016, and up 86% from the same quarter of last year. According to the International Tin Research Institute, many smelters in the country are operating on tight margins, with some understood to have temporarily halted production when prices dropped below US$19,000/mt in February before resuming when prices recovered above $20,000/mt. ITRI expects Indonesian refined shipments this year to remain broadly level with 2016. The next few months figures will give as a clearer picture on how much metal Indonesia will export this year.
Myanmar Shipments Fall
According to the ITRI, Myanmar was the source of over 99% of China’s reported tin ore and concentrate imports in January and February, which totaled exactly 40,000 mt, down 51% from 81,077 mt for the same period of 2016.
Sales of concentrates stockpiles at the beginning of the quarter explain why shipments fell. In addition, the Chinese Spring Festival also impacted numbers. For these reasons it seems too early to tell whether exports will continue to decline or not but ITRI expects exports to be limited in 2017.
What This Means For Metal Buyers
Tin’s performance for the balance of 2017 will strongly depend on the production levels of these two Asian countries. For now, supply seems to be limited while most established producers are struggling to maintain production. Meanwhile, the demand outlook for the whole industrial metals pack looks stronger than expected, which should provide a floor to prices this year.