An adaptable metal widely used in consumer electronics, tin boosts silicon performance in lithium-ion batteries
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 often used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. Solder for use in printed circuit boards is the key driver of tin demand. Importantly, tin boosts silicon performance in lithium-ion batteries.1https://www.internationaltin.org/tin-in-lithium-ion-batteries/ China is both the largest producer and consumer of tin, with Indonesia not far behind in both production and identified reserves.
Tin is associated with a large range of ESG issues. This is partly because tin is designated by the US Dodd Frank Act and the EU Conflict Mineral Regulation as a ‘conflict mineral’ in DR Congo. However, DR Congo is only a relatively minor source of global tin supplies. The ESG issues identified by TDi as highly associated with tin are concentrated in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) production, which accounts for around a quarter of global supply. The most prominent issues include violence and conflict, pollution, child labour and occupational health and safety.
Main Uses and Attributes
Tin is nontoxic, ductile, malleable, and adapted 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’, due to small parts being present in so many appliances that are essential to modern life.
The largest share of tin supply is used in solder, which has a vital application in consumer electronics, especially in printed circuit boards. Tin is also widely used for plating steel cans used for food containers, and in metals used for bearings. Tin-plating of iron protects the latter from corrosion; 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 can would improve charging times.8https://www.internationaltin.org/storedot-accelerate-to-fast-charging-evs-with-silicon-and-tin/
Supply Chain Risk
TDi assesses Tin for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.
Country Governance Risks
Tin's association with countries experiencing:
Association with ESG issues
TDi Sustainability's data rates Tin's association with the following issues as high or very high: