LONDON (Reuters) - Growth in global refined tin demand is expected to slip to about 2 percent this year from 3.3 percent in 2016, due to weaker solder demand in China, industry group ITRI said on Wednesday.
ITRI said the forecast follows a survey of 136 companies that use tin, accounting for 46 percent of global tin consumption.
The survey showed that total refined tin demand rose to 348,900 tons last year.
The bulk of tin goes to make solder, largely used in the electronics industry to connect components on circuit boards.
“The strong growth in tin use in 2016 to a large extent reflected the second half recovery of tin consumption in solders inside China after the short-lived contraction of demand in 2015,” ITRI markets manager Tom Mulqueen said.
“As the recovery is now largely behind us we are unlikely to see the same levels of demand growth repeated in 2017.”
Solder accounted for 48 percent of the total last year, with the automotive and solar power industries key growth areas, although a long-term trend of smaller electronic components was curbing the overall need for solder.
“Miniaturization is still a threat and many respondents expected future solder sales to be static or in decline,” the group said.
While 2 percent growth would be lower than in 2016, it is better than what was first indicated by the survey, which was conducted between June and August, ITRI said.
“Latest reports for the latter half of 2017 suggest tin usage in chemicals and tinplate in China has been stronger than the 1.3 percent indicated by our survey results,” it added.
Tin demand for the chemicals industry, the second biggest use of tin at 17 percent of the total, grew by 5.5 percent last year, but demand in China this year would be temporarily affected by government environmental inspections, the statement said.
The group estimated that pipeline stocks held by tin consumers amounted to around 23,000 tons.
Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Greg Mahlich