Last Primary American lead smelter closing – implications for ammunition manufacturing

The Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, established in 1892, will close in December due to EPA regulations on air quality.

According to AmmoLand, “The Herculaneum smelter is currently the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore that is mined nearby in Missouri’s extensive lead deposits, giving the smelter its ‘primary’ designation.  The lead bullion produced in Herculaneum is then sold to lead product producers, including ammunition manufactures for use in conventional ammunition components such as projectiles, projectile cores, and primers.  Several ‘secondary’ smelters, where lead is recycled from products such as lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components, still operate in the United States.”

What this means, though, is that ammunition manufacturers will have to get primary lead bullion from overseas sources such as China.

“In 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard.  Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.”  This seems to be an end-run in the gun control controversy.

The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) opines that “The all-out attack on Americans’ gun rights is now being taken to the next level.”  “[M]assive stockpiling effort by the Department of Homeland Security has forced ammunition prices to nearly triple, while also dwindling supplies of many popular calibers.”

The new EPA regulations would require an estimated $100 million to convert [to non-smelter manufacturing], so Doe Run decided to close the smelter.  This will also destroy American jobs.

SPPI also notes “And after we can no longer manufacture ammunition domestically we have the UN Arms Trade Treaty to stop the importation of ammunition.”

Better stock up on bullets now.

EPA air quality regulations are affecting not just lead smelters.  There are now only three copper smelters in the US, two in Arizona, one in Utah. The lack of smelting capacity is the reason the proposed Rosemont mine may have to send its copper concentrates overseas. Will we soon have to send all copper ore overseas?  EPA is also endangering our electricity production with its war on coal-fired generating plants such as the Navajo plant in Arizona which provides the electricity to run the Central Arizona Project canal that provides water to Tucson.

I wonder if this will have implications for military readiness.

See also:

Obama’s Climate Action Plan is Clueless and Dangerous



  1. So, basically the EPA is doing what it always seems to do – that is, move the problem somewhere else and proclaim that they’ve eliminated it.

    We will still need lead for car batteries and other items (besides ammo). If we just buy it from China, like you know will happen, we’ve just put Americans out of work in Missouri, and we move the pollution elsewhere. The pollution is not “gone”, just not “here”. Nice job, EPA. Way to go.

    1. The point remains that there will be no more smelting of primary lead ore in America. That will have to be done overseas. Most lead is used for making automobile batteries.

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