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A white silvery metal, Tin is well known for its corrosion resistance against distilled and salt water and ordinary tap water. It is not a metal in abundance in the world. Tin is widely used in electronics, soldering, food packaging, engineering alloys, anti-corrosion coatings and several other industries.
Ordinary tin is a silvery-white metal, is malleable, somewhat ductile, and has a highly crystalline structure. Due to the breaking of these crystals, a "tin cry" is heard when a bar is bent.
When tin is cooled below 13.2°C, it changes slowly from white to grey. This change is affected by impurities such as aluminium and zinc, and can be prevented by small additions of antimony or bismuth.
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The conversion was first noted as growths on organ pipes in European cathedrals, where it was thought to be the devils work. This conversion was also speculated to be caused microorganisms and was called "tin plague" or "tin disease".
Global tin consumption is expected to register a year-on-year growth of 10 percent to 367,000 ton in 2006 compared to 2005. Growth in the Asian electronics industry and replacement of lead-based solders are the key triggers for tin consumption in the world.
As is the case with many other metals, China is the leading consumer of tin in the world. In 2007, the demand for tin is expected to rise by 384,000 ton. China, Indonesia, Peru and Brazil are the leading producers of tin in the world.
India produces very little quantity of tin—some 10 tons—per year. The country imports around 4,000 tons of tin yearly. Tin plating has also a very good potential to develop in the country. Tin is mainly used in packaging both food and non-food sectors in the country.
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Tinplate packaging is picking up in the country. The market size of tin plate packaging is estimated to be around 3,00,000 tons. In India, tin plate is mainly used for packaging in three categories: edible oil & cashew, processed food and non-food.
Globally, the demand is estimated to be above the supply. The London Metal exchange is the major referral market for futures trading in tin.