Just off the southeast coast of Indonesian Sumatra,directly on the Asian tin belt, lies Bangka,an island a tad bigger than Corsica and a bit smaller than Connecticut. Millennia before, rivers now gone swept the mineral cassiterite – or tin oxide – from the island’s interior to the coast,where it remains today as alluvial deposits. Now,at these prehistoric deltas, imposing dredging platforms vacuum the ocean floor in search of the valuable mineral.
The second largest tin producer in the world, PT Timah has its headquarters on Bangka and is responsible for 15% of the world’s tin supply. Timah, as employees endearingly refer to the company, is also the Indonesian word for “tin” – appropriate, as the commodity makes up 92% of its revenues. PT Timah dredges and mines the tin oxide, washes,smelts, and refines it to extract the tin, and then casts the tin in the form of ingot, shot, solder, or pellets before distributing it globally. Eventually, this tin will find its way into a wide range of products, from motherboards to frost-free windshields; from peach cans to pipe organs; from cell phones to cutlery.
Free download: The current issue of SAP SPECTRUM December 2009