US aluminum sector keeps on rolling along

Aug 28, 2012 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  LME aluminum prices, Aluminum Association, Heidi Brock, Ducker Worldwide LLC, Noranda Aluminum, Layle K. Smith, U.S. aluminum market, Rio Tinto Alcan Norsk Hydro ASA

American aluminum demand and production are on the rise, helping the domestic industry weather the global storms that have slowed European and Chinese markets, industry leaders say. Furthermore, its unique position within the recycling world gives it additional advantages in the marketplace.

Preliminary estimates put total aluminum demand (shipments by domestic producers plus imports) in the United States and Canada at 7.68 billion pounds in the first four months of this year, a 6.6-percent increase from the same period in 2011, according to the latest available data from the Arlington, Va.-based Aluminum Association, while apparent consumption (demand minus exports) climbed 9.2 percent to 6.43 billion pounds in the same comparison.

“Because of aluminum’s low weight and durability, people are turning to it for new and innovative applications,” said Heidi Brock, president of the Aluminum Association. “The North American aluminum industry is growing to meet this demand.”

Gains weren’t limited to year-over-year comparisons. Production in March and April showed month-on-month increases after slipping in January and February following two years of continuous upward momentum. “While most markets are holding steady or beginning to look up, the key drivers are the transportation and electrical sectors,” Brock said. Electrical wire and cable used in building applications and electrical transmission increased 28.8 percent in the first four months compared with a year earlier. “Aluminum’s high conductivity and low weight make it the material of choice for power transmission lines,” she said.A Ducker Worldwide LLC report said that aluminum’s share of the automotive material mix is expected to double to 16 percent by 2025. “The transition to aluminum in the automotive sector is being driven by efforts to increase fuel efficiency,” Brock said. “Downweighting with aluminum increases fuel efficiency and performance while maintaining the highest level of safety.”....

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