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Electric car batteries will be the key growth driver for tin commodity in the next few years as it is now being used as the base metal, aside from nickel, to produce faster charging car batteries. Pix courtesy of Smelting Corp Bhd

KUALA LUMPUR: Electric car batteries will be the key growth driver for tin commodity in the next few years as it is now being used as the base metal, aside from nickel, to produce faster charging car batteries.

Malaysia Smelting Corporation Bhd (MSC) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Patrick Yong Mian Thong said tin is greatly used in electric car batteries and it will be the growth base metal and the biggest user of tin due to its ability to fast charge and discharge ability.

"Undoubtedly, tin price will see solid uptrend in the next 5 years when the production and demand for batteries goes up, especially from the electric car segment.

"For now, in terms of supplying tin to battery manufacturers, we do not have a target end-user to tap as nobody is mass producing electric car batteries. We are still go through traditional supply chain," he told The New Straits Times in an interview recently.

MSC is currently one of the world’s leading integrated producer of tin metal, tin-based products and custom tin smelting.

The company is currently refurbishing an energy-efficient smelting furnace or ISASMELT, located in Pulau Indah, Port Klang to carry out custom tin smelting.

MSC's Pulau Indah plant, a modern brownfield plant that will have the lowest carbon footprint, is currently at initial testing and commissioning works and will be fully operation early next year.

Touching on tin mining, Patrick said MSC has been doing well in the segment, supported by the present government who has been quite encouraging in tin mining activities.

"We take this as a positive lead as tin mining is also profitable, and makes a lot of sense for us to expand. Being in an ongoing tin mining activity, it does generate alot of cashflow for us to expand," he said.

MSC's total production of tin-in-concentrates for the financial year (FY) 2018 increased by 6 per cent to 2,355 tonnes from 2,226 tonnes previously.

From July last year, MSC increased daily mining output of tin ore to exceed 9.0 tonnes per day, from the average 8.4 tonnes per day previously.

"Our target is to go up to 10 tonnes per day by next year," he said adding that mining activities at MSC's Sungai Lembing, Pahang will also see some positive yield.

To note, the Sungai Lembing has the potential for small-scale mining, undertaken by MSC's 80 percent owned subsidiary, SL Tin Sdn Bhd (SLT).

According to MSC's annual report, earthwork and construction for mine facilities commenced in 2018 and are still in progress, with mining and first commercial production expected to be carried out in 2020.

Moving forward, Patrick said MSC will continue to strengthen its position and niche expertise in tin mining and smelting across the global supply chain through organic means and strategic acquisitions.

The company will continue to seek investment opportunities and operated with relatively lower cost structures.

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