Philip Martens told the Platts Aluminum Symposium 2010 that urbanisation in developing countries and a push for sustainability were the drivers of increased demand for aluminium.

He said: “Beverage cans, food packaging, appliances, construction, transportation and personal technology are all on the verge of a boom in emerging markets. In transportation alone - products such as shipping containers, trucks, commuter trains and automobiles - the opportunity is larger than most observers have recognised.”

Light-weighting is the key. “Without compromising strength, aluminium allows for light-weighting in the design of anything that moves. “In a world constrained by fuel supplies, and as alternative energy sources come online, aluminium is the most plausible option.”

Food packaging also will see a new wave of demand, predicted Mr Martens. “In the next few years, more than 2 billion people will cross the official threshold out of ‘poverty’ and will adopt lifestyles the developed world would begin to recognise as working class,” he said.

“When you look at the global performance of beverage companies, it is clear the capacity to manufacture aluminium beverage containers and other food packaging will struggle to keep pace with demand.”