World tin production decreased in 2015, clocking in at 270,000 MT compared to 286,000 MT in 2014. China remained the largest producer of tin at 100,000 MT, with Indonesia coming in a distant second at 50,000 MT.
According to the US Geological Survey’s most recent report on the metal, the overall decline in tin production came on the back of a major fall in the tin price. That’s interesting considering that the tin market has actually been in deficit for eight of the last 10 years, and is expected to remain in deficit in 2016 — normally deficits result in higher prices as demand is higher than supply.
Explaining the situation, the US Geological Survey states that the tin price fell in 2015 largely due to higher output from Burma and lower demand from China. While Indonesian tin producers attempted to curb the price fall “by restricting sales of tin when the price of tin fell below a specific price threshold,” ultimately their efforts had little effect. That said, there’s some hope that the tin price could rise if production of the metal stays low.
While it’s interesting to look at tin production at the country level, it’s also worth knowing which companies produce the most tin. That information can be found on ITRI’s list of the 10 top refined tin-producing companies of 2015. Released earlier this week, it shows that by far the largest producer of refined tin last year was a major Chinese company. Read on for details on that company, and for information on the other top refined tin-producing companies of 2015.
1. Yunnan Tin Company (SZSE:000960)
Refined tin production: 75,500 tonnes
China’s Yunnan Tin Company was the largest producer of tin by far in 2015, putting out 75,500 tonnes of the metal. The company, which trades on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, is a subsidiary of state-owned Yunnan Tin Group (Holding) Company, which traces its roots back to 1883. In addition to being the largest tin-producing company in the world, Yunnan Tin Company is also the largest precious metals research and development center in China.
2. Malaysia Smelting (KLSE:SMELT)
Refined tin production: 30,260 tonnes
In second place, but far behind Yunnan Tin Company, is Malaysia Smelting, which produced 30,260 tonnes of tin in 2015. The company is also over a century old, and has been a key integrated producer of tin and tin-based products, as well as a leader in custom tin smelting, since 1887. It is a subsidiary of Singapore’s The Straits Trading Company (SGX:S20), and has a number of its own wholly owned subsidiaries; Malaysia Smelting also holds interests in several other companies.
3. PT Timah (IDX:TINS)
Refined tin production: 27,431 tonnes
PT Timah is a state-owned Indonesian company that was established in 1976 and is headquartered in Bangka-Belitung province. It’s a manufacturer and exporter of tin with operations ranging from exploration and mining to processing to marketing, and last year, it produced 27,431 tonnes of tin. Like Malaysia Smelting, it has a number of subsidiaries.
Refined tin production: 20,224 tonnes
Peru-based Minsur is a major tin producer, though it also produces some gold. Last year, its tin output came in at 20,224 MT. The company’s origins date back to the beginning of the 20th century, and it currently owns the San Rafael mine, which it bills as South America’s largest tin-producing mine. San Rafael has been operated by Minsur since 1977, and today produces 12 percent of the world’s tin. Minsur also holds a smelter and refinery, where it completes the tin production cycle.
5. Yunnan Chengfeng Non-ferrous Metals
Refined tin production: 16,600 tonnes
Founded in 1994, Yunnan Chengfeng Non-ferrous Metals is China’s second-largest producer of tin, behind Yunnan Tin Company. In 2015, it produced 16,600 tonnes of the metal. Aside from tin, it produces indium, silver, gold, lead, bismuth and antimony. It currently has over 1,800 sets of smelting equipment, as well as 100 sets of environmental protection equipment.
6. Empresa Metalurgica Vinto
Refined tin production: 12,106 tonnes
Empresa Metalurgica Vinto is a state-owned Bolivian company that produces high-grade metallic tin ingots, receiving and processing concentrate from tin miners of all sizes. In 2015, it put out 12,106 tonnes of tin.
7. Guangxi China Tin
Refined tin production: 11,100 tonnes
Last year, Guangxi China Tin produced 11,100 tonnes of tin. Behind Yunnan Tin Company and Yunnan Chengfeng Non-ferrous Metals, it’s the third-biggest producer of tin in China. The company, which was established in 1990, also produces indium, lead, antimony, zinc, silver, cadmium and bismuth, among other metals.
8. Gejiu Zi-Li Metallurgy
Refined tin production: 11,000 tonnes
China’s Gejui Zi-Li Metallurgy produced 11,000 tonnes of tin last year. Yunnan Tin Company bought a 67-percent stake in the company in 2007, and Gejui Zi-Li currently operates a smelter based in the same city as Yunnan Tin Company. Gejui Zi-Li is China’s fourth-largest tin producer.
9. Thailand Smelting and Refining
Refined tin production: 10,502 tonnes
Founded in 1963, Thailand Smelting and Refining, better known as THAISARCO, manufactures tin, tin alloys and tin-related value-added products. In 2015, the company put out 10,502 tonnes of tin. The company has been managed and operated by the UK’s Amalgamated Metal since 1995, and Amalagamated Metal is its largest shareholder.
10. Metallo Chimique
Refined tin production: 8,863 tonnes
Finally, Switzerland’s Metallo Chimique produced 8,863 tonnes of tin in 2015. The company operates a unique recycling and refining facility that processes secondary raw materials for the production of copper, tin, lead and nickel. Metallo bills itself as a “zero-waste producer,” and states that its tin ingots are “well known for the low level of lead content.”
This is an updated version of an article first published on Tin Investing News on April 10, 2013.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.