LONDON- Malaysia Smelting Corp (MSC), the world's third-largest tin producer, has told customers it is looking into the possibility of lifting a force majeure, during which its operations were suspended, on Nov. 30, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
MSC declared force majeure in June because of coronavirus-related disruption to production. Companies sometimes declare a force majeure when circumstances beyond their control disrupt output.
No one at MSC was immediately available for comment.
The letter, dated Nov. 18, said that due to a recent drop in COVID cases, companies in the Malaysian states of Selangor and Penang were being allowed to "return to 100% workforce subject to employees' vaccination rates".
"Please note than when MSC ceases its declaration of force majeure, MSC is planning to resume operations in an orderly manner," the letter said.
"To avoid any overwhelming receipt of tin concentrates which may give rise to delays in treatment of materials...MSC would appreciate if you could provide your tentative delivery schedule of ore as soon as possible."
MSC's operations since the coronavirus pandemic started have been impaired by restrictions on staffing numbers and by technical problems at its new smelter.
MSC accounts for about 7% of global supplies estimated at around 330,000 tonnes last year. It produced 22,400 tonnes last year, International Tin Association figures showed.
Shortages of tin this year, partly due to reduced supplies from MSC, propelled tin prices CMSN3 on the London Metal Exchange to a record high of $40,000 a tonne on Thursday, a rise of 85% since the start of the year.
The scramble for tin can be seen in historically low stocks in LME registered warehouses and the premium for the cash over the three-month CMSN3 tin contract, currently above $1,200 a tonne.
(Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by David Evans and Bernadette Baum) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 207 513 5681;))