The price of copper is rising due in no small part to the increase in power generation. Foreclosed on homes are being gutted of copper pipes and sold at scrap and then exported to, yup, you guessed it, China.

scrap copper sells for about $3.50 a pound — against 70 cents just three years ago.

He and other scrap traders estimate that more than 80 percent of recycled copper is exported to China and India.

Warren Gelman, president of merchant broker Kataman Metals Inc in St Louis, Missouri, said illegal trade is just a small fraction of the scrap metals business.

Copper and magnets are the new gold rush in this brave new world of energy consumption.