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Hyundai E&C seeks edge with aluminum cables

Hyundai Engineering and Construction is looking to boost efficiency and cut costs by using aluminum cables in place of copper ones.

According to the company, it has been working with a cable manufacturer to develop aluminum cables for low voltages that meet Korean standards since last year. The company was able secure a source of aluminum cables that passed Korea Electrical Safety Corp.’s safety standards at the beginning of the year.

The newly-developed aluminum cables come with flame resistant coating, and offer the same functions and quality as copper cables, the company said.

Hyundai E&C says that in addition to replacing copper cables that are increasingly difficult to secure, aluminum cables also offer significant economic benefits for construction companies.

According to the builder, copper cables are widely used in construction projects but construction firms have had problems sourcing copper cables due to the recent rise in copper prices.

“Installing aluminum cables require half the amount of manpower needed for copper cables as they weigh about one third of copper cables,” a Hyundai E&C official said. He added that as aluminum cables are cheaper than copper cables, replacing copper cables with the new aluminum cables allows related costs to be cut by up to 60 percent.

“Assuming 100 sites are operated each year, costs can be reduced by between 7 billion won ($6.5 million) to 10 billion won.”

According to the Hyundai E&C official, such properties of aluminum cables have made them an attractive alternative to copper cables, prompting European and Asian construction firms to apply them to projects.

Korea Electric Power Corp. is said to have developed aluminum electric cables for outdoor use, while Land and Housing Corp. and other local construction companies are reviewing plans for replacing copper cables.

In addition, the company says that aluminum cables come with the added benefit of being a significantly less valuable target for thieves.

According to the company, theft of copper cables from construction sites has steadily increased in recent years fueled by rising copper prices, with about 3,000 kilometers of copper cables having been stolen by 2010.

As aluminum cables have much lesser resale value, the company projects that they will be exposed to much smaller risk of theft.

According to Hyundai E&C, while aluminum cables cost about half as much as copper cables, their resale value is only 6 percent that of copper cables.

By Choi He-suk  (