No need for a crystal ball as leading professionals discussed the future of tin at the second annual tin conference in Melbourne on Wednesday 5th November. International Tin Research Institute (ITRI), MetalsX, Stellar Resources amongst others presented findings on tin’s performance this year and future outlook.
Peter Kettle was the keynote speaker from ITRI and has been involved in tin research for over 30 years. Kettle’s view on the long term is that the story remains unchanged, stating that there is a high probability of supply shortages developing in the next five years. But that in the short term the supply surges from Myanmar and Indonesia, coupled with the weakness in key demand sectors, are contributors to setbacks in the tin price. Having said that Kettle went on to say that US$19,000/tonne (the current price level) represented the low point for tin prices as marginal producers are unprofitable at this level.
Kettle also spoke about the positive changes for tin use and production in the future. Where tinplate and solder were the past hero applications, using tin for chemicals, energy purposes and lead and steel alloys is set to increase significantly in the next ten years. He also predicted that changes in the locations of major mines will see a shift from Indonesia, Peru and China to sites in Africa, Australia and Russia.
Interestingly, Metals X’ Peter Cook stated that the Renison Bell tin mine had made great progress in improving its production performance. However, in valuing all of assets in Metals X “tin” was a freebie.
Other presentations by Kasbah and Venture Minerals were bullish about tin’s future and that the supply issues will become critical. They also agreed that patience was required as the tin price needed to be at least $25,000 per tonne in order to attract funding for projects.
The presentation by Stellar Resources was led by the managing director Peter Blight who has been with the company for seven years, after previously working for UBS, UC Rusal and Rio Tinto.
Blight discussed Stellar’s promising Heemskirk and St Dizier resources. Heemskirk is the highest grade undeveloped ASX listed tin resource and is one of only seven known tin projects that BGR – German Federal institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (mandated to report on future supply of critical metals to government and industry) – claimed has a good chance to go to operation by 2020.
Heemskirk, combined with St Dizier, has 85 kilotonnes of tin. Following very positive prefeasibility results in July 2013, Stellar plans to target its first production in 2017.
In terms of future exploration these sites in Tasmania have outstanding potential, especially with their unexplored halo of silver-lead veins.
ITRI’s seminar is also presented in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
To view Peter Kettle’s presentation click here.