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Through the Gateway: Aluminum – Versatile and Timely

After showcasing our first Gateway Metal, Copper, and its co-products, it’s time to move on to our next Gateway Metal as part of our “Through the Gateway” informational campaign.

Chances are, you used it this past weekend, during and/or after your 4th of July barbecue.  It is being featured as a part of a massive art installation currently hosted by London’s historic Kew Gardens.  And it was a topic at June’s Three Amigos North American Summit in Ottawa, Canada.

We’re talking about Aluminum.

The second most abundant metallic element in the Earth’s crust, according to USGS, aluminum has only been commercially produced for a little over a hundred years, but has since become a widely used mainstay industrial metal – for good reason.

Weighing about one-third as much as Steel and Copper, Aluminum is highly malleable with low density and a low melting point, has great conductivity and corrosion-resistance, and can be engineered to be extremely strong — with certain aluminum alloys being as strong if not stronger than certain types of steel.

Some of the more traditional applications for Aluminum include usage in transportation, packaging, and construction, as well as consumer appliances and machinery.  More recently, however, the metal’s versatility has made it a driver in our society’s move towards more energy efficiency. As is the case with Copper, we can reasonably expect further advances in materials science to yield new, innovative uses for Aluminum and Aluminum-based alloys.

Meanwhile, Aluminum is also a Gateway Metal, with the mining and mineral processing of Bauxite ore for Aluminum yielding access to the tech metals Gallium and Vanadium.

We will first explore some of Aluminum’s uses and applications, before taking a look at the metal’s supply and demand picture.  ARPN followers will quickly notice distinct differences from policy issues we have typically highlighted for other minerals and metals.  Yet, these issues are no less critical, interesting, and — as President Obama’s remarks at the Three Amigos summit indicates — extremely timely.

Upon concluding the review of issues surrounding Aluminum and the Aluminum industry, we will once more zero in on the metal’s co-products Gallium and Vanadium later this month.