March has been a busy month in the world of tin. On the local front, Stellar Resources commenced a 17-hole diamond drilling program at its Heemskirk Tin Project in Tasmania, covering both Heemskirk and the St Dizier deposit and drilling to a total depth of 4,740 metres.
The overall objective of the program is to improve project economics following positive results from a Pre-Feasibility Study in July 2013. The program will run until October, with assay results expected in the second half of the year.
The world’s largest exporter of tin, Indonesia, has been the focus for much of the global tin news this month.
Early in March there were concerns from Indonesia that the country’s tin output could be disrupted by prolonged dry weather. The islands of Bangka and Belitung, where about 90 per cent of ore is derived have been very dry since late December. The islands’ open-pit mines that supply ore to smelters need substantial water levels for digging up and separating the raw metal from mud.
As reported by Bloomberg, the dry spell may raise fuel costs for pumping in water especially for mines that are located far from water sources.
Tin smelter, PT Refined Bangka’s Salim said in an interview with Bloomberg, “Now it’s very hot and dry, water is absorbed and evaporated faster.
“Tin smelters in Bangka and Belitung including PT Refined Bangka use ore which is dug up from open-pit mines on land as well as dredged from the seabed offshore. The islands’ weather is normally rainy from December through March,” said Salim.
PT Timah, Indonesia’s biggest producer of tin exports has not seen any major export disruption from the dry weather so far. However, according to Bloomberg, one of its vessels was en route to Singapore on March 13 when it was intercepted by the Indonesian Navy and its exports seized under suspicion the 2,888 tonnes of tin it was carrying failed to meet government trade rules.
Part of the cargo seized belonged to members of the Indonesia Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (ICDX). Law in Indonesia requires all refined tin to be traded through the ICDX before shipment.
Tin has climbed 2.3 per cent on the London Metals Exchange (LME) this year, and is currently the best performer after nickel. The price for tin looks set to rise into April as it moves towards a predicted average of US$24,000 per tonne for 2014, with the price currently at US$23,225 per ton on the LME.