A California businessman suspected something was awry so he hired a private pilot to fly over a factory in a remote desert near the Mexican town of San Jose Iturbide. What he found was startling – nearly one million metric tons of aluminum, stacked in some cases several stories high, and covered with tarp and bales of hay. The cache is heavily guarded and the property surrounded by high walls and razor wire fencing. The aluminum on the site represents about 6% of the world’s total aluminum inventory and is estimated to be worth over $2 billion dollars.
The cache is suspected to be owned by one of China’s richest men, Liu Zhongtian, billionaire owner of China Zhongwang Holdings. It is believed that Zhongtian routed the aluminum through Mexico in order to avoid U.S. trade tariffs (there is enough aluminum in the cache to make 2.2 million Ford F150 pickup trucks). Others believe he may have been trying to corner the market by hoarding the world’s aluminum supply. Zhongtian claims he knows nothing about the desert cache of aluminum.