Doe Run outlines lead plans

Apr 28, 2014 | 11:23 AM | Andrea Hotter

Tags  Doe Run, lead mining, lead smelter, zinc, copper, lead recycling, lead batteries, Jerry Pyatt hydrometallurgy

NEW YORK — Exploration, technology and diversification will be key to the success of Doe Run Co., president and chief executive officer Jerry Pyatt told AMM in an interview.

The St. Louis-based company and its predecessors have been operating in Missouri since 1864 and plans to continue to operate there for the foreseeable future, Pyatt said as the lead producer celebrates 150 years in the industry. "Exploration is key to the success of our business, not only to maintain the platform of our business in southeastern Missouri but also to give us a foothold in other places. We’re really focused at this point on North America."

The company has mined more than 500 million tonnes of ore since its inception, including from its flagship mining operation: the Viburnum Trend. Its Southeast Missouri Mining & Milling division’s lead mining operations produce about 250,000 tonnes of lead concentrates annually, providing about 70-percent of the primary lead supply in the United States.

As a lead-focused mining company, Doe Run is unique; lead is still more commonly a byproduct of zinc mining and not a target metal for most producers, and barely features in new mine capacity that is coming online.

While strict environmental regulations on lead production have played a role in this situation, it ultimately comes down to available resources, according to Pyatt. "Companies are doing exploration and find a zinc resource, but what they find has less lead byproduct than historically was the case," he said, noting that the ratio of lead to zinc in mines has continued to drop, particularly over the past 10 to 15 years. "It’s the same with silver. I think we’re seeing the ratio there decline as well. If you look at all the resources that are coming online, it’s not by design—it is due to the geology that is there."....

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