Indonesia’s Tin Exports to Drop as Low Prices Curb Output
By Yoga Rusmana and Eko Listiyorini
Refined-tin shipments from Indonesia, the largest exporter, probably dropped to the lowest level in five months in June as miners reduced production because of lower prices and bad weather disrupted ore supplies to smelters.
Exports fell 7.2 percent to 7,300 metric tons last month from 7,866 tons in May, according to the median estimate of four smelter executives and an analyst in a Bloomberg survey. That’s the least since shipments of 5,380 tons in January and compares with sales of 10,875 tons in June 2011. The Trade Ministry is expected to release the data next week.
Prices have plunged 27 percent from a six-month high in February on concern the debt crisis in Europe and slower growth in China may erode demand for the metal used in soldering and packaging. Falling supplies may limit the slump, helping boost revenues at producers including Malaysia Smelting Corp. (SMELT) and PT Timah (TINS), the world’s second and third-largest producers. Prices below $20,000 ton have some adverse impact on small-scale production in Indonesia, according to ITRI Ltd.
Last month’s shipments may be as low as 7,000 tons, Peter Kettle, research manager at the St. Albans, England-based ITRI, said by e-mail July 2. “My reason is lower prices resulting in lower volumes through the independent smelters.”
Three-month tin fell 0.3 percent to $18,845 a ton on the London Metal Exchange at 12:09 p.m. in Singapore. The metal dropped 4.2 percent in June for the fifth straight monthly loss. The price peaked this year at $25,880 a ton on Feb. 8.
Indonesia represents about 40 percent of global tin exports, according to ITRI. The country has 39 registered exporters, mostly based in Bangka Belitung province, the main producing region, including PT Koba Tin, unit of Malaysia Smelting.
Shipments in the first five months of the year declined 4 percent from a year ago to 37,668 tons, according to data from the Trade Ministry compiled by Bloomberg.
Stormy weather reduced ore supplies from offshore tin mines, cutting exports, Johan Murod, commissioner of Belitung-based smelter PT Tommy Utama.
“Traditional tin dredgers have to stop production on the east coast of Bangka because the southeast wind is very strong,” Murod said July 2. “Miners are reluctant to work because of low prices.”
Indonesia’s production may drop this year from about 90,000 tons last year if prices remain low and as the European debt crisis hurts demand, Hidayat Arsani, president of the Indonesian Tin Mining Association, said June 12.
Producers in Bangka Belitung agreed to suspend spot shipments in the final quarter of last year to try boost prices to $25,000. The voluntary curb, which didn’t cover contractual sales, was dropped Dec. 31.