A RARE METAL -The Tin Market


Consumption increasing/supply decreasing ‐ a rare metal in the Earth’s crust‐ expect future robust tin prices.

Major Uses

  • Solder, traditional tinplate.
  • A non‐toxic metal both in the deposits and after refining.

New Uses

  • Expect increased demand because of new standards for lead‐free solder.
  • new technology lithium ion batteries.
  • new tin bearing, nickel/chromium free stainless steels.


  • Traditionally a niche market with only 22.6Mt produced in 160 years – equivalent to only 18 months of world copper production.
  • Production dominated by China and Indonesia (65% of world production estimated for 2012) but production is declining due to lower grades in China, which is now a net importer, and high costs in Indonesia.
  • Future major projects are all hard rock with high capex.



  • Because of short and mid‐term demand exceeding supply, a third price wave can be expected, perhaps exceeding the 32,000 March 2011 high.
  • At April 2012 ITRI Tin Conference it was suggested that US20,000 per tonne be used for conservative future price modelling