Statistics and Information
Tin is one of the earliest metals known and used. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3,500 B.C., although the pure metal was not used until about 600 B.C. About 35 countries mine tin throughout the world. Nearly every continent has an important tin-mining country. Tin is a relatively scarce element with an abundance in the earth's crust of about 2 parts per million (ppm), compared with 94 ppm for zinc, 63 ppm for copper, and 12 ppm for lead. Most of the world's tin is produced from placer deposits; at least one-half comes from Southeast Asia. The only mineral of commercial importance as a source of tin is cassiterite (SnO2
), although small quantities of tin are recovered from complex sulfides such as stanite, cylindrite, frankeite, canfieldite, and teallite.
Most tin is used as a protective coating or as an alloy with other metals such as lead or zinc. Tin is used in coatings for steel containers, in solders for joining pipes or electrical/electronic circuits, in bearing alloys, in glass-making, and in a wide range of tin chemical applications. Secondary, or scrap, tin is an important source of the tin supply.