The $5 billion hoard of aluminium the world wants but can't have

Now, with demand roaring and China curbing supply, consensus view is that outlook has never looked brighter for prices while mountains of aluminum are vanishing just when manufacturers need them most

Mark Burton and Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen | Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

On an industrial park about an hour’s drive toward the South China Sea coast from Ho Chi Minh City sit giant mounds of raw metal shrouded in black tarpaulin. Stretching a kilometer in length, the much-coveted hoard could be worth about $5 billion at current prices.
In the esoteric world of aluminum, those in the know say the stockpile in Vietnam is the biggest they have ever seen — and that’s in an industry that spends a lot of time building stockpiles while analysts spend a lot of time trying to locate them. But as far as the increasingly under-supplied market is concerned, it’s one that may never be seen again.
Why it’s unlikely to move anytime soon involves Vietnam’s customs authorities. How its existence has become so significant, meanwhile, opens a window on a ubiquitous, yet erratic commodity at a time when makers of everything from car parts to beer cans are competing for more of it as they emerge from

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First Published: Nov 21 2021 | 2:01 PM IST

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