Tin Exports From Indonesia Tumble Most in Five Months in April

Tin shipments from Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter, dropped 16 percent in April from a month earlier, the steepest decline in five months, after smelters cut production because of a slump in prices.

Exports, which include tin ingot and solder, fell to 7,853.1 metric tons last month from 9,295.7 tons in March, the Trade Ministry said in a statement today. Shipments were 7,489.3 tons a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tin, which tumbled into a bear market this month in London, lost 13 percent this year to $20,401 a ton on the London Metal Exchange. The drop prompted some Indonesian smelters to cut or halt output as prices were below production costs, said Hidayat Arsani, president of the Indonesian Tin Mining Association. Costs average $22,000 a ton for most smelters, he said.

“Who can produce under this condition? Some smelters only rely on their inventories to survive for now,” Arsani said by phone from Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung province today. “The question is what will happen if the stocks run out and prices remain low? People will go bankrupt.”

Price of tin, used in soldering and packaging, will rally to $24,000 by end of December as shipments from Indonesia may drop, according to the median of 18 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey published yesterday. Indonesia’s exports may fall 19 percent to 80,000 tons this year as the country imposes higher purity limit starting in July, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey in April.

Indonesia shipped tin to 12 countries last month, with Singapore taking 64 percent of sales, ministry data showed. Other destinations were Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. Shipments in the first four months of the year jumped 16 percent to 34,658 tons, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Tin for three month delivery rose 0.7 percent to $20,350 a ton on the London Metal Exchange at 1:18 p.m. in Jakarta.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.