We’ve probably all heard about investing in gold these days. You can’t escape it, from flashing “We buy gold” signs outside of urban storefronts to low-budget commercials on late-night TV. The idea of investing in gold is based more on the old notion of gold equating to wealth. However, if you want to give investments a more measured – and less glamorous – perspective, perhaps you should look at aluminum.

The gold market is really about, well, gold. Aluminum and other industrial metals, though, take a big picture look at things like manufacturing needs, international supply chains, and industrial demands. In short, it’s an actual investment, much like real estate or stock, not just turning in some old gold jewelry for cash. And at least one expert thinks that aluminum might be a wise investment. From his self-explanatory article entitled “Zinc And Aluminum May Be The Metals To Invest In This Year”, here’s investment analyst John Mylant:

Investors interested in metals should look toward metals like tungsten and antimony, or base metals like lead and zinc. Those are the areas where there’s a critical shortage of product and a deficiency in the construction of additional mines over the last 10 years. But if one is looking to get the most out of an investment this year, I would suggest exploring Zinc or Aluminum as investments. Either of the two may have the best possibilities for growth this year.

For a closer look as to why Mr. Mylant is so keen on aluminum, we turn to his article “Aluminum Production Rising Globally – What This Means For Prices”:

We have been used to reports of rising Chinese production with modest cutbacks in the West, but what we have seen in recent months is rising production in the West in addition to China. True, global run rates dropped in January, but the previous three months had seen a steady rise with the IAI forecasting smelter capacity outside China to rise by 5.5% this year and by another 3.7% next year. That represents the addition of around 2.5 million tons annualized over the two-year period, according to the article.

The growth this year is expected to come primarily from the Gulf region (up 23%) and non-China Asia (up 14%). The first hot metal was produced in December at the 740,000-ton-per-year Ma’aden/Alcoa integrated smelter/alumina project in Saudi Arabia, with ramp up over the next two years. This will help take Middle East production to 5.4 million tons by 2015, more than double the production from 2009 of 2.4 million tons.

Investing in industrial metals isn’t nearly as sexy as hot stocks or get-rich-quick land opportunities but Mr. Mylant feels the opportunity is there. Do you dare take the plunge? As with every investment, there’s a risk – but at least expert data backs up the speculation.