Demand for tin used in electronics soared to record highs in the first half of 2021, outpacing supply and underpinning a more than 52% price rally on the London Metals Exchange in the past six months, new analysis by IndexBox, Inc. shows.
A deficit in shipping containers caused delays in deliveries from Southeast Asia and Latin America while the pandemic spurred a decline in unrefined tin exports from Indonesia.
Both of these factors led to a shortage of tin on the global market. As a result, in just six months, prices for the metal grew 1.5 times on the London exchange from $20,540 per tonne in December 2020 to $31,264 per tonne in June.
Click here for an interactive chart of tin prices
IndexBox analysts expect high prices for tin could incentivize mining activity to ramp up and gradually balance out supply and demand on the market. According to the World Bank, the average yearly price for tin in 2022 will decrease to $23,000 per tonne and stabilize in the midterm.
In 2020, production of tin decreased by 6.4% to 359,000 tonnes, falling for the third year in a row after two years of growth. In value terms, tin production reduced to $5.2 billion in 2020 estimated in export prices.
China continues to dominate production, accounting for 168,000 tonnes, or about 47% of total volume.
All producing countries, except Russia, Congo and Nigeria, experienced a significant contraction in mining last year. In Indonesia, tin ore production fell by 15% year-on-year, in China by 4%, in Myanmar by 21% and in Peru by 9%.
In value terms, the US ($540 million), Singapore ($374 million) and Malaysia ($368 million) were the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2020, with a combined 36% share of global imports.
In 2020, the average tin import price amounted to $18,195 per tonne, about 9.7% less than the previous year.