The International Tin Research Institute (ITRI) annual conference was held in Penang, Malaysia from 12-16 May. This year’s conference was well attended by all of the major producers, potential new entrants, smelters and traders along with some consumers.
Traders took the view that the market is balanced at present with little difficulty in sourcing metal. ITRI agreed with this view for the next few months, but felt there was an increasing likelihood that prices would break-out on the upside as the year progresses. In support of this view, ITRI cited the continuing discipline of the Indonesian Government in setting production targets in-line with their price expectations and the low level of stocks across all industry participants. As the table below indicates ITRI is forecasting a rising deficit in the tin market through 2014 which should support higher prices.
Taking a five year view, ITRI sees Indonesian tin exports declining from the 85,000 tonnes expected in 2014 to below 60,000 tonnes. This view was also shared by the German Government agency responsible for monitoring strategic metal supply Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR). In their review of new supply, BGR indicated that Indonesia’s resources are sufficient for 10 years production at a declining rate, providing an opportunity for new entrants to fill the supply gap emerging towards the end of the decade.
The BGR presentation detailed the findings of a review of 157 tin resources many of which were visited by their research team. In October 2013, the BGR team visited Stellar’s Heemskirk project with an expert on tin geology. The chart below summarises the findings of this study by placing those resources with the potential for mine development at current tin prices on a plot of grade versus tonnage of contained tin.
It is pleasing to see that Stellar’s Heemskirk tin project is well placed on the plot as one of the highest grade resources scheduled for underground mining.