Reflecting on Our Past
Our 2014 sustainability report marks a significant point in the history of The Doe Run Company (Doe Run). In 2014, we celebrated our 150th anniversary by recognizing the efforts of the past as we prepare for the future. In reviewing the records of our predecessor, St. Joseph Lead Company, it was both fascinating and somewhat humbling to see the early challenges the company overcame in order to reach this landmark anniversary. From fires and floods to wars and the Great Depression, the leaders and employees of St. Joseph Lead Company and Doe Run persevered. Today our challenges are different, but in some ways, just as daunting.
We celebrated our past by sharing our history broadly with employees, our communities and other key stakeholders. Perhaps one of the most lasting efforts is a microsite that hosts historical photos, a timeline of 50 key events, and interviews with retirees and employees that enabled us to capture our history for generations to come.
“We are optimistic that the intrinsic importance of minerals and metals, and the need of society to recycle and reuse products in a sustainable fashion, bode well for Doe Run and the lead industry – the most recycled metal on the planet.”
Our Company Today
2014 was a historic year for reasons other than our anniversary as it also marked the first year of operation following the closure of our primary smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri. The closure of our primary smelter — the last such facility in the U.S. — meant our business transitioned dramatically. Today, the lead concentrates we produce must be exported in order to be converted into primary lead metal. This was a significant change for our organization, as well as for the domestic industry that depended on primary lead metal. Read more about how we worked with customers to prepare for the transition.
The decreased production of lead metal in the U.S. placed North America in a deficit of 63,000 metric tonnes. This deficit was made up by record imports. In 2014, imports of lead metal to the U.S. reached an all-time high of 464,000 metric tonnes, and as a nation we became even more dependent on foreign metal production.
Our smelter closure also meant a transition for our operational organization. We created a Metals Division in 2014, which combines all operations and personnel from our Resource Recycling (secondary smelter) facility with our continuing refinery and alloying operations at the Herculaneum property.
Remediation of the smelter property in Herculaneum is underway and is expected to take until at least 2020. A portion of that property was leased to Riverview Commerce Park LLC and converted to a shipping port along the Mississippi River. Two companies use the port to transport fracking sand, and total shipping increased from around 100,000 tons (in 2013) to approximately 600,000 tons in 2014.
Our secondary smelter in Boss, Missouri, now represents our sole producer of lead metal for the company. This smelter receives lead scrap and recycles it for future use. The company’s earliest miners likely never conceived that the metal they produced more than 100 years ago would continue to be in circulation today. Nor could they have envisioned that today more than 80 percent of all lead is used in batteries to power 1 billion passenger vehicles globally. The 99 percent recyclability of lead-acid batteries is a modern sustainability story.
“A commitment to safe work conditions is our number one priority, and Doe Run achieved a number of safety milestones and awards this year, including a perfect safety record for 15 years at our Fabricated Products Inc. subsidiary, as well as the 2014 mine rescue national championship title.”
In 2014, Doe Run and the North American lead recycling industry as a whole faced limited lead scrap availability, which increased costs for feed materials. In addition, we continue to fine-tune our processes to meet the increased domestic demand for secondary lead and alloys, as well as to address environmental requirements. Specialty lead alloys are critical to our future as they help power advanced battery chemistries in hybrid vehicles, including a prototype NGHV (Natural Gas Hybrid Vehicle) Dodge Ram 1500 truck. Doe Run showcased the truck at Missouri University of Science and Technology in fall 2014. Other auto manufacturers also are exploring advanced lead-carbon batteries for stop-start hybrid vehicles that combine traditional gasoline-powered engines with electric motors to reduce carbon emissions and improve mileage. We are proud to be a part of efforts like this that contribute to a more sustainable world.
As part of the overall lead industry, Doe Run continues to take on leadership roles with trade organizations, such as the International Lead Association, Association of Battery Recyclers and Battery Council International. These organizations champion innovative new uses for lead, and proactively establish programs to promote safety. In 2013, lead manufacturing and mining companies industrywide introduced voluntary targets to reduce workforce blood-lead levels for all employees to below 30 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) by the end of 2016. Blood-lead levels are the trace amount of lead the body absorbs through occupational exposure. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that employees of lead industry companies be removed from their jobs if their blood-lead levels exceed 53 μg/dL on a six month average.
Doe Run has taken an even more protective approach by proactively monitoring employees’ blood-lead levels on a monthly basis if they exceed 19 μg/dL at the Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division or 15 μg/dL at the Metals Division. We remove employees from exposed areas if they exceed 30 μg/dL.
A commitment to safe work conditions is our number one priority, and Doe Run achieved a number of safety milestones and awards this year, including a perfect safety record for 15 years at our Fabricated Products Inc. (FPI) subsidiary in Arizona. In addition, our mine rescue teams achieved top honors, including the title of national champions. Read more about both here.
Other challenges for the year included some land depressions and sinkholes that appeared in April on our West Fork Mine property. Used as an entry point for our other mines, the depressions and the subsequent additional inflow of water into the West Fork Mine required us to close the site. We continued to address the situation throughout the year, working with all appropriate agencies. More information can be found here.
Overall, 2014 was an eventful year for Doe Run as we adjusted to the changing nature of regulatory and market forces. The loss of America’s ability to turn an important mineral into metal for domestic manufacturers must be underscored. Such a loss jeopardizes the future of battery producers and also means the U.S. has lost the opportunity to capture the value-added economic benefit of the full supply chain. For that reason, I was honored to be called to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in July 2014 to share how regulations impacting mining and metal production, such as those that impacted our primary smelter, put our country on a dangerous path of foreign dependence.
“The loss of America’s ability to turn an important mineral into metal for domestic manufacturers jeopardizes the future of battery producers, and also means the U.S. has lost the opportunity to capture the value-added economic benefit of the full supply chain.”
Doe Run supports continuous improvement and sound, science-based policymaking. However, we believe that in some areas, regulatory agencies are over-reaching and creating burdensome regulations that are not based on health risks. The result for our company is record environmental spending the last two years at the price of research and innovation opportunities.
Our industry must explore innovations in mineral recovery, increased energy density and revolutionary technologies, like our proposed lead electrowinning process. However, competing resource allocations, such as those to address new regulations, impede our ability to bring new technologies to fruition. We must continue to pressure our regulators to take a right and responsible approach backed by sound science. We invite interested parties to visit our new website www.WeAreDoeRun.com to learn more and show their support.
If you are reading this report, you are important to us. We work hard to obtain the opinions of our stakeholders through qualitative and quantitative surveys. According to our 2014 survey, we know safety and jobs are a primary concern. We’d like to know more. Please consider answering a few questions on our online survey or email me at the below address.
Finally, it is an honor to preside over a company at this historic juncture in our history. Despite our challenges, we are optimistic that the intrinsic importance of minerals and metals, and the need of society to recycle and reuse products in a sustainable fashion, bode well for Doe Run and the lead industry — the most recycled metal on the planet.
Jerry L. Pyatt
President and Chief Executive Officer