The price of tin closed above $34,000 a ton last week, surpassing the old record price of $33,600 set in 2011 as recovery from the Great Recession was under way.
Tin is a basic industrial metal used to make magnets, car parts, and electronics, among other things. It coats steel cans to retard corrosion and is an ingredient in pewter and bronze.
Traders bid up prices out of fear that supplies will become even tighter as the Delta virus variant sweeps through key mining and processing regions, especially in Asia, the Financial Times reported.
Tin’s price has shot up 133 percent since March 2020 as people bought laptops, tablets, and other devices enabling them to work or school at home, according to the FT.
“Demand has continued to climb, while freight disruptions and output issues have restricted supply,” John Meyer at advisory firm SP Angel, said to the FT.
In particular, tin’s price rise is “driven by shipping logistical issues and supply pressures from Myanmar,” trader Alistair Munro at Marex said in an FT interview.
The south Asian country is a key supplier of tin.
TRENDPOST: Political unrest and a new COVID epidemic there has curtailed mining activity (see “Myanmar Protesters Hit Where It Hurts,” Trends Journal, 23 March, 2021), while heat waves in the Chinese tin-processing center of Yunnan have led utility companies to conserve electricity, shutting off many industrial users.
A drought earlier this year in southwest China, near Myanmar, cut hydroelectric supplies, idling some smelters for as long as three weeks and delaying processing of as much as 20,000 tons of tin ore, the International Tin Association reported.