An adaptable metal widely used in consumer electronics, and as a coating or alloy in many products and machine components.

Tin (Sn)

Tin was one of the first metals used by humans and continues to play a vital role as an alloy in a vast range of applications. It is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion, for solder in printed circuit boards and in a range of roles in lithium-ion batteries.1https://www.internationaltin.org/tin-in-lithium-ion-batteries/ China is the largest producer and consumer of tin and has the largest identified reserves, with Indonesia not far behind in both production and identified reserves.

Tin production is associated with a large range of ESG issues. It is in scope of Section 1502 of the US Dodd Frank Act and the EU Conflict Mineral Regulation, due to its association with conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). However, DR Congo is only a relatively minor source of global tin supplies.

The ESG issues associated with tin production that have been identified by TDi as most material are concentrated in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM), which accounts for around a quarter of global tin supply. These issues include violence and conflict, pollution, child labour and occupational health and safety shortfalls.

Main Uses and Attributes

Tin is nontoxic, ductile, malleable, and suited to all kinds of cold-working, such as rolling, spinning and extrusion.2https://www.britannica.com/science/tin The low melting point of tin and its firm adhesion to clean surfaces of iron, steel, copper and copper alloys facilitate its use as an oxidation-resistant coating material.3https://www.britannica.com/science/tin As pure tin is relatively weak, it is not put to structural uses unless alloyed with other metals.4https://www.britannica.com/science/tin The use of tin in alloys means that tin is sometimes known as the ‘spice element’. Small quantities are used for many applications that are essential to modern life.

The largest single use of tin is in solder, which is vital for consumer electronics, especially for printed circuit boards. Tin is also widely used for plating steel cans used for food containers, and as an alloy in metals used for bearings. Tin piping and valves maintain purity in water and beverages. Molten tin is the base for (float) plate-glass production.5https://www.britannica.com/science/tin

Tin is used in multiple ways in car manufacturing and has been described by the International Tin Association (ITA) as the ‘forgotten electric vehicle metal’.6https://www.internationaltin.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Tin_the-forgotten-electric-vehicle-metal.pdf A number of companies are researching the use of tin as a performance enhancing component in EV battery anodes.7https://www.internationaltin.org/tin-in-lithium-ion-batteries/ Research suggests that using a tin and silicon alloy as an anode material to replace graphite could improve charging times.8https://www.internationaltin.org/storedot-accelerate-to-fast-charging-evs-with-silicon-and-tin/

Main Uses

  • Bearings
  • Car Components
  • Food Containers
  • Lithium-ion Batteries
  • Printed Circuit Boards

Key Industries

  • Automotive
  • Electronics

Key Countries

Top Producer China
Top Reserves China

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Tin for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.

Overall Supply Chain Resilience Risk
Strength of Association with ASM
Very Low Moderate Very High

Country Governance Risks

Tin's association with countries experiencing:

Violence and Conflict
Weak Rule of Law
Poor Human Rights
Poor Environmental Governance
Very Low Moderate Very High

Association with ESG issues

TDi Sustainability's data rates Tin's association with the following issues as high or very high:

Violence and Conflict
Negative Perceptions of Corporate Citizenship
Occupational Health and Safety
Child Labour
Labour Rights
Forced Labour
Indigenous Peoples Rights
Company/Community Conflicts
Community Rights Violations
Non-Payment of Taxes
Negative Biodiversity and Conservation Impact
Degraded/Fragmented Landscape
Very Low Moderate Very High

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