Tin Mines

Tin Deposits

Tin deposits have, as their economically most important component, one of the two exploitable tin minerals, cassiterite (tinstone, SnO2) or stannin (tin pyrites, Cu2FeSnS4). All tin deposits are formed by magmatism in the area of subduction zones. Today, tin is mainly extracted from three types of deposits:

  1. Epithermal deposits in the vicinity of granite diapirs. Zonation of metals is often observed, with tin dominating in the deeper parts of the veins, but being replaced towards the top by copper and then lead-zinc. The main ore is cassiterite.
  2. Epithermal deposits in intermediate volcanic rocks (andesite, dacite) and porphyrytine systems. Thus, these deposits are found in orogens at convergent oceanic/continental plate margins, for example in the Andes. The main ore is stannin.
  3. Alluvial deposits. Tinstone is dissolved from epithermal deposits by weathering and accumulated by erosion in rivers or on the shelf. The main ore depends on the type of weathered deposit.

However, tin is also economically relevant as a minor constituent in volcanic-associated massive sulfide (VMS) deposits deposits.

Tin (Sn) is a chemical element and a metal, more precisely a heavy metal. It is shiny silvery-white and very soft; it can be scratched with a fingernail. Originally, it was used as an admixture to copper to produce the alloy bronze. The metallurgical processing of tin began somewhat later than that of copper. The oldest dated alloy of tin bronze was found in Pločnik in Serbia and dated to about 4650 BC. Until the 19th century, it was mainly used to make tableware.

Annual world consumption of tin today is about 300,000t. Of this, 35% is used for solders, 30% for tinplate and 30% for chemicals and pigments. The three largest producers are China, Indonesia and Myanmar. Currently, more than 60% of the world's tin production comes from the tin belt of Southeast Asia. The three largest consumers are the USA, Japan and Germany.