Risks lurking in the tin supply chain
Tin is regarded as a critical (or strategic) mineral by both the US and China, though Europe does not designate it as such. Indonesia, meanwhile, just classified tin as one of 47 critical minerals. And in a poll conducted at a London Metals Exchange seminar last month, tin was regarded as the metal with the second most upside potential in 2024, behind copper.
All of which is to say: tin, often a forgotten critical mineral that’s widely used in electronics soldering and batteries, could be in for an exciting year ahead.
Driving the potential upswing in prices is Myanmar’s mining ban on tin, imposed on the country’s Wa state that’s responsible for 70% of national production of the metal. Already, that has caused a collapse in Chinese imports of tin concentrates. For now, supply chain impacts have been limited due to overall tepid demand, as well as China’s scooping up of the metal earlier this year when prices were low.
Tin futures prices, monthly
A threat to European aluminum
The Chinese EV onslaught isn’t only threatening legacy carmakers. It’s also posing a risk to European producers of raw materials, including aluminum. The Norwegian alumnium company Norsk Hydro has warned that Europe’s imports of Chinese EVs could have a big impact on regional aluminum demand.
“That is a threat that we are following: if European automakers start reducing their demand [for aluminium] because they are outcompeted,” the company’s CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim told the Financial Times.
Plus, the EU’s anti-subsidy probe into Chinese aluminum would offer little reprieve to its own producers if demand for the metal were to plummet.