Lithium can be a metal battery that attracts everyone’s attention, but it’s easy to forget tin plays a role that is also incredibly important.
At one point it was used mainly for corrosion resistance of steel and iron, tin was also often used in the food and beverage sector. However, in recent years both of these applications have disappeared and most of the tin has been redistributed to meet different industry demands.
Today, almost 50 percent of all tin demand is due to its role soldering for electrical connections. Tin also sees increasing use as a the main component of lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, current production is increasingly unable to keep up with demand, especially since large volumes of metal are currently supplied from high-risk areas.
An underestimated, unsung critical mineral
The secret of the role of tin in the production of batteries is largely due to its initial use. Because metal is protected by an oxide film, it resists corrosion from distilled seawater and soft tap water. It is also very resistant to strong acids, alkalis and acid salts.
As the Cornell Chronicle notes, this makes tin an ideal solution to the constant problem of battery anodes consisting of lithium and similar alkaline substances. Although these metals have high conductivity, they are also incredibly reactive when exposed to traditional battery electrolytes. Prolonged use tends to result in the formation of metal structures known as dendrites, which significantly shorten battery life.
However, when tin is added to a carbonate-based electrolyte, it creates a barrier that protects the anode from reactivity, greatly increasing battery life. Tin was also found dramatically increase battery performance. Finally, a tin-aluminum alloy found in May 2019 potentially double the charging capacity of lithium-ion batteries.
It should come as no surprise that demand for tin is projected to increase in the next decade. up to 60,000 metric tons (MT) per year until 2030. And this is the problem. The world is currently facing a tin deficiency is steadily deterioratingwith tin prices almost doubling in 2021.
Declining global stocks
At present, China is the world’s leading supplier of tin, which produces 91,000 tons of metal battery in 2021. Unfortunately, as a result of government pressure, the country recently decided to cut tin exports by 40 percent, exacerbating an already persistent deficit. It is unclear whether China intends to increase domestic tin use or not start accumulating metal as it happens with copper, zinc, cobalt and aluminum.
Worse, Indonesia, the world’s second-largest producer, recently announced its intention delay in new export permits due to administrative problems. Other leading producers include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar. Given that many of these countries are at high risk and prone to geopolitical instability, the current global tin supply chain is extremely fragile, broken by even minor obstacles.
There is another factor. Because tin is one of several elements classified as a conflict mineral, recently increased attention and attention to responsible sourcing and production. To this end, the International Tin Association has introduced several new initiatives do not encourage sources from “conflict and high risk areas” (CAHRAs).
Tin production opportunities
How the world’s sixth largest tin producer, Australia is perhaps the best option for both improving supplies and increasing resilience. As a first-tier country, Australia is also the fourth best mining jurisdiction in the world in terms of investment attractiveness. The country is home to a wide range of pre-built infrastructure, thanks to historic logging and mining activities.
Australia is also worth noting because it is home to the world’s largest tin mine Renison Bell. Owned and operated by the country’s largest tin producer Metals X (ASX:MLX), only Renison Bell 85 percent of the country’s known economic resources are tin. In late 2020, Metals X announced that it would increase mine production and extend its life by ten years.
The Renison Bell mine is located in Tasmania, home to some of the richest tin deposits and the most promising projects in Australia. Of the projects in Tasmania, the Great Pyramid project is one of the most highlights. Belongs TinOne Resources (TSXV: TORC)the project features a historic pewter resource with significant discoveries.
Around is the Great Pyramid Pyramid Hill, and mineralization at the site indicates the presence of tin-bearing granite below the existing deposit. The current deposit is up to 40 meters from the surface, has a current length of more than 500 meters with an average width of about 150 meters, and the depth is currently unknown. To date, the project has only five historic wells with a depth of more than 150 meters.
TinOne took the opportunity and diamond drilling began on the Great Pyramid project April 21, 2022
Huge lithium reserves in Australia are also worth mentioning – they are the second largest in the world. This makes the region attractive not only in terms of mining, but also as a major player in supporting the entire battery supply chain. One of the world’s largest lithium mines, the Greenbushes project, originally produced tin.
Greenbush, owned and operated by the private company Talison Lithium, is now also the longest continuously operating mine in Western Australia.
Take it away
In recent years, tin has experienced significant growth. Its crucial role in the growing supply chain of batteries has led to the fact that demand is ahead of production, and this problem is getting worse every year. To solve this problem, both investors and mining companies need to shift their focus to stable low-risk jurisdictions and sustainable tin production.
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