Will aluminum ever be worth big money?

Right now it looks like aluminum is worth about $1/lb. considerably less for scrap aluminum, but let’s go with the $1/lb.

In the next decade or two, what are the odds aluminum is worth $10, $20, $100 per pound?

It’s the most abundant metal in the crust. Probably never.

You’re going backwards, actually. Aluminum is very hard to refine from the ore. Before modern industrial methods were developed, it used to be very expensive (Napoleon had an aluminum dinnerware set for showing-off reasons). Now that it’s relatively easy to extract the metal, it’s cheap as hell and not likely to go back up, barring a major civilization-ending disaster.

As long as you’ve got a ready supply of electricity and trucks that can haul bauxite, aluminum will be pretty cheap.

Are there issues on the demand side that could come into play? I don’t know what the biggest users of aluminum are, but it’s worth asking whether those industries are expanding, and whether aluminum use is going up or down. The latest airliner design from Boeing has a fuselage made out of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (rather than aluminum), and there have been a couple high-end (and at least one not-so-high-end) car models that have had bodies made of aluminum (rather than steel). Both those were driven by a desire to make products lighter and more fuel efficient.

The apex of the Washington Monument is aluminum. Once very valuable, now cheap.

Let’s just pretend for the sake of argument that in some future world, all the reasonably concentrated bauxite deposits on earth are mined out. All the aluminum has been turned into soda cans and they are all in landfills. Well, now you’ve got another reasonably concentrated source of aluminum…those landfills. All those metals in the stuff humans threw away just waiting to be reused.

You can make the same argument for rare earths, the magnets that go in electric cars, copper, and so on and so forth. This is why news about some doomsday shortage of stuff like that is overblown.

The only nonrewable resources on earth are :

    a.  natural features and ecological diversity.  Once a species is extinct, if nobody got a DNA sample, it's gone.  Once someone smashes a one of a kind mountain peak or strip mines yellowstone, it's gone.  
    b.  Helium.  It seems that if you release helium into the atmosphere, it escapes the earth forever.  Whoops.  And we waste it on party balloons, even though it has unique properties as it is the coldest gas in the liquid state I know of.

Automobiles come to mind–and there are a massive number in the world. While steel is cheap it is very heavy and there is a strong interest in improving fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight .

Once we figure out fusion, we’ll have unlimited supply of that, too.

nope. recycling of aluminum beverage cans (via deposit/refund schemes) has been pretty successful.

Unsteady electric power sources like wind and solar actually work fairly well for Al smelters.

Ramp up production when there is surplus energy that can be had for cheap. They already do this with hydro surplus in some areas.

Given that wind and solar production is only going to go up and get cheaper, Al is going to be quite cheap for some time to come.