Driving the Tech-Metal Revolution

Tin

Tin is an essential metal in electronics, transport and packaging, and its demand continues to grow.
Andrada Mining Tin Producers

Overview

Tin for Electronics & Containers

Tin (periodic table symbol Sn) is a silvery-white, malleable metal with a slight blue hue.

Although scarce, with only 0,001% found in the earth's crust, tin is not considered rare. It occurs in cassiterite, which is the only commercially significant tin mineral. The cassiterite is smelted with coal or coke to remove oxygen and obtain tin in its metallic form. 

Uses

Tin Periodic Symbol

Tin is an essential element in everyday life, used in a diverse range of products. The majority of products use very small quantities of tin, with the most important applications being electronics, transport, and packaging, including plating steel cans and bearings.

It is essential in technology production, with around 40% used in lead-free solder for electronic circuit boards and semiconductors.

Tin also has a large variety of chemical uses. These are divided between more traditional inorganic applications in ceramics, pigments, and electroplating, as well as organic tin products used in PVC stabilisers, polymer catalysts, and glass coating.

Currently, tin is used in lead-acid batteries. However, research is underway to use tin in new tech like lithium-ion batteries, smart homes, electric vehicles, and 5G.

Mining

Supply

China produces over half the globe's refined tin and is a primary consumer itself. As refined tin demand increases, there will also be an increased need for feedstock sources. The primary bottleneck in the tin market is its supply from mines.



World Import of Tin Ores & Concentrates:  2015 - 2021 (kt)



World Production of Refined Tin by Country:  2015 - 2021 (kt)

Market

Demand

Tin's use in solder has represented the largest tin use sector for many years and remains at a 48% share as of 2022. Most tin is used in electronics, but around 24% is used in industrial solder for traditional purposes such as plumbing, wiring, and similar applications.

Solar ribbon for joining solar cells is emerging as a significant new industrial solder use. Solder producers typically also make anodes for electroplating. The outlook for solder in new electronics is very positive.

Electric vehicles, a new set of 5G-based communication technologies, advanced computing, and robotics technologies all present new growth opportunities.

Tin use in lithium-ion batteries, particularly in anode electrodes, is a promising source of future growth, which will balance out the decreasing tin use in solder and tinplate.

The Chinese market is of enormous importance within the global tin industry. In 2021, the country accounted for 47% of global demand. Typical annual consumption is five times that of the next largest national markets – the USA or Japan.

Demand is currently in a period of equilibrium with a complex set of economic, market, and technology-related drivers.

Expected

Outlook

Industry experts predict that demand for refined tin will exceed 515 kt by 2030.

Electronic and industrial solder will continue to account for the majority of demand (40%), but there will also be a significant increase in the share of lithium-ion batteries (9%).

Although there is an increased drive to improve recycling, tin mining will likely continue to constitute the majority of feed for tin smelters.

The tin market will therefore need to bring more new mines online, something that has proved challenging over the last two decades.

While refined production is expected to increase over the outlook period to meet the demand, there may still be periods of feedstock supply deficit. This means that additional supplies will be needed towards 2030, especially as lithium-ion batteries grow more popular, which could come from primary or secondary producers.



World Imports of Tin Ores & Concentrates: 2015 - 2021 (kt)



World Outlook for Tin Demand: 2021 - 2031 (%)



World Outlook for Tin Use in Electronic Solder: 2015 - 2031 (kt)



World Outlook for Tin Use in Electronic Solder: 2015 - 2031 (kt)



World Outlook for Tin Use in Lead-Acid Batteries: 2015 - 2031 (kt)



World Outlook for Tin Feedstock Supply:  2021 - 2031 (t Sn)