Myanmar tin production halves amid labour shortage

Imports of tin ores and concentrates from Myanmar into China dropped significantly in May as the major tin mining area in the country struggles with a shortage of workers. Total gross imports of tin ores and concentrates into China totalled some 11,159 tonnes in May, down some 42% or nearly 8,000 tonnes. Of these imports, over half the gross weight came from Myanmar.
However, in terms of tin content, an estimated 62% came from other countries, including Bolivia, Australia, and the DRC. Imports from these countries increased by some 1,100 tonnes tin-in-concentrate (79%).
Although the grade of imports from Myanmar continues to average around 25% Sn, tin-in-concentrate imports more than halved due to the lack of material. According to sources in the country, continued strict policies aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus have reduced the number of workers available for mining and processing, reducing output. It is unclear when the number of workers could increase again.
The majority of the imported raw materials are bought by smelters in Yunnan province, near the border between the two countries. Due to power issues throughout May, the drop in imports is unlikely to have significantly tightened the supply chains. Most of these smelters have now come back online, however.
The forecast lack of ore and concentrate imports from Myanmar for smelting at this time may be one reason why Yunnan Tin Company (YTC) recently agreed to accept more concentrate shipments than usual from the Renison mine in Australia. However, YTC’s main smelter in Yunnan province is currently down for maintenance until the middle of August. As a result, it is forecasted that Chinese refined tin market will remain tight in July.

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