here's been a lot of talk lately about structural changes in base metals like zinc. But another, lesser-followed metal appears to be going through some more-critical shifts.
That market has been seeing a number of very interesting developments of late. For one, a drawdown of official warehouse stocks, which has seen global inventories drop by 40% since August 2013. That puts tin stocks at a five-year low--a stark contrast to zinc, where stocks are at relatively high levels compared to the last five years.
That supply tightness in tin is apparently coaxing more mine production out of some unexpected places.
Recent numbers suggest that the emerging Asian nation of Myanmar is one of those new sources. With the country's January tin exports to neighbouring China showing very strong levels, at 17,500 tonnes for the month.
That's a high number, given that Myanmar's Chinese exports for all of 2013 totalled 89,100 tonnes. Equating to a monthly average of under 7,500 tonnes.
A number of sources are now noting that Myanmar potentially holds very large tin reserves. And with investment money now flowing into the country following political reforms, mining activity appears to be ramping up at both large and small mines here.
This is a very important shift in this relatively small market. Supply in tin has traditionally been concentrated amongst just a few nations globally--with super-producers China, Indonesia and Peru putting out 72% of mine supply in 2013.
But the figures above suggest there may a new kid on the block in this metal. One with the right geology to become a significant supplier.
It's not everyday we see a change like that. Something to be aware of when considering both the tin price, and project opportunities in this space.
Here's to new sources,
By Dave Forest