American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.

Tin as a Critical Metal?

A piece on Pro Edge Newswire, the re-branded and expanded home for Rare Metal Blog, asks if Tin is a “critical metal.”

And indeed, in spite of the fact that it has been mined since 3000 BC, it appears to have all the makings of a critical metal with its many new applications and a looming supply crunch. According to the piece:

  • The world’s biggest mine, located in Peru, is set to close within five years, and the likelihood that new mines will not be sufficient to make up for losing the 10% of world Tin it currently produces is high:
      • Only one new Tin mining project is currently in the feasibility stage. At the same time, production in China and Indonesia, the leading Tin-producing nations, is falling.
  • Meanwhile, Tin is more than the source for Tinplate lining the inside of cans, which is only the second most important end use. Tin is an increasingly important component for consumer electronics, and lithium ion-batteries, and is used in stainless steel.
  • The next generation of solar cells will likely use Tin, it is used in cosmetics for its anti-bacterial properties, and research to use Tin as a fuel catalyst is being expanded.

While all these are good reasons why Tin would pass the sniff test for critical metals, American Resources would like to throw another reason into the mix: its property as a “gateway metal” yielding access to the tech metals Scandium and Indium, which are recovered as by-products of Tin production.

The issue of certain metals and minerals not only being critical to manufacturing in their own rights, but as “gateway” elements that yield the tech metals increasingly critical to innovation and development is the topic of American Resources’ latest quarterly report entitled: “Through the Gateway: Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology.”