Tags: ammunition | lead | smelter | doe

Closing of Mo. Lead Smelter May Lead to Higher Ammo Prices

Image: Closing of Mo. Lead Smelter May Lead to Higher Ammo Prices The smokestack from the Doe Run Co. lead smelter towers over the Missouri town of Herculaneum.

Monday, 02 Dec 2013 10:32 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Ammunition prices are expected to soar when the nation's primary lead smelter shuts down at year's end and manufacturers have to turn to lead imports to meet demand.

Doe Run Company in Herculaneum, Mo., will close due to its failure to meet new environmental standards put in place in 2008. Under a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state reached in 2010, the company agreed to shut down at the end of 2013, Breitbart.com reports.

"It is the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore that is mined in nearby Missouri's extensive lead deposits," Breitbart reported, citing a statement from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

Several "secondary" smelters that produce lead from recycled materials, such as lead batteries, will continue to operate across the country, including a second smelter in Missouri owned by Doe Run. But since the type of lead produced by the company is used for making components in traditional ammunition, either the lead itself or the components will have to be imported, which will likely drive up the cost of bullets and shotgun shells.

Breitbart noted that in 2008 the EPA "issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times the previous standard." While Doe Run "spent millions of dollars in environmental and other upgrades," once the more stringent regulations were in place it was no longer "economically feasible" for the aging smelter built in 1892 to continue operations, Breitbart reported.

Doe Run reports that 145 employees and some 73 contractors will lose their jobs because of the closure.

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