Has Myanmar tin production peaked?

According to ITRI, the tin research body, production out of Myanmar may be in a peak-production phase and could start to decline soon.

“Based on a recent visit to the [Wa county] area by ITRI China staff, it appears that Myanmar tin production is peaking at some 50,000 tonnes per annum, although there is still significant potential for the discovery of new ore resources,” said a statement.

Estimated tin production by Myanmar has seen a more than 10-fold increase in the four years to 2015. According to ITRI, this is almost entirely due to the rapid growth in a major new mining centre in Wa county,  close to the border with China’s Yunnan province.

The main mining zone, called Man Maw, covers a 200km2 area. Within this, current mining activity is focused in a 20 km2 area and these operations now account for some 95% of estimated total national production.

According to ITRI, Wa county production can be measured by China’s official tin ore and concentrate import data. It believes that the 88% increase in imports reported by China in the first half of 2016 is based on a depletion of above ground stocks of ore and concentrate accumulated over the past few years.

“This masks an underlying decline in mining activity and depletion of readily accessible higher-grade ore resources.”

Notable changes in the region over the past couple of years, highlighted by ITRI, include: depletion of several large openpit mines, with most mining now underground; investment by those remaining small companies in the area into mechanisation and expansion; a fall in grades from more than 10% to 2-3% at present.

“In the short-term, output from Wa seems stable but production and shipments will be reduced in the rainy season, which began in June and usually continues to October.

“The longer-term outlook for production in Wa mainly depends on whether there are new resource discoveries in the next few years. Otherwise, production may peak in 2015-2017 and then decline,” said the release.

 

Source: The Mining  Journal

 

 

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