* Copper price rose 300 pct since '03 vs aluminum's 75 pct
* Aluminum has potential to replace 20 pct of copper uses
* Lighter-weight aluminum often conducts as well as copper
By Carole Vaporean
NEW YORK, June 7 Alcoa Inc. (AA.N) Chief
Executive Klaus Kleinfeld said on Tuesday that no one is
happier to see copper prices climbing than he is, because that
meant substitutions into aluminum would increase.
Speaking at The Aluminum Summit hosted by AMM, the head of
the largest U.S. aluminum producer said: "I'm happy that the
copper price has gone up. Every time it rises, those people who
use copper are calling us, because they want to replace copper
He pointed out that the price of copper has risen about 300
percent since the end of 2003, compared with an increase of
roughly 75 percent in aluminum over the same period.
At Tuesday's close, copper was last quoted at $9,140 per
tonne, whereas aluminum stood at $2,690 per tonne.
Current technology would allow for about 20 percent of
copper applications to be replaced with aluminum, amounting to
about 3.8 million tonnes per year, Kleinfeld told conferees.
"That's why I like it," he said.
Medium to low voltage electrical wire and cable
applications in cities, industrial or commercial buildings is
one segment where aluminum can be used as a substitute, he
In China, for example, overhead power lines are now mostly
made out of aluminum instead of copper.
"That is because, on a per pound basis, aluminum is twice
as conductive as copper and it's one-third the weight. You have
to increase the diameter a little bit and you have a lighter
cable. And, it's as conductive as copper," he said.
In this case, he said, using lighter cables means the
supporting poles can be set further apart, so fewer are
He predicted that the same practice will eventually take
hold in the United States.
Other replacement applications the CEO cited included
building facades, wire harnesses in transportation, high
voltage cables, and heat sinks for electronics.
"The price in copper goes up and what does that spell to
you?" the executive asked. "Aluminum, I hope."
Overall, Kleinfeld repeated Alcoa's forecast for a 12
percent global demand growth rate for 2011 over 2010. Excluding
China, the aluminum giant looks for an 11 percent increase in
demand growth for the year.
(Reporting by Carole Vaporean; Editing by Gary Hill)