Former Doe Run CEO Selected for National Mining Hall of Fame

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Jeff Zelms guided The Doe Run Company through challenges, laid the foundation for new technology and made substantial contributions to building a sustainable industry.

Jeffrey L. Zelms guided The Doe Run Company for more than 20 years as its top executive and is now being recognized nationally for his contributions. Known for his mantra, “Make tomorrow better than today,” Zelms will be inducted into The National Mining Hall Fame during a Sept. 10 ceremony in Leadwood, Colo.

During his time as president and CEO, Zelms understood that Doe Run operated with the consent of the community and strived to educate the public about mining’s value to the country.

“Jeff is an outspoken leader who challenged traditional perceptions of our industry,” said Bruce Neil, current CEO and president of Doe Run, a post he assumed after Zelms’ retirement in 2006. “He tackled seemingly insurmountable obstacles to ensure lead production remained a viable U.S. industry.”

Zelms guided three key developments which contributed to the company’s and industry sustainability: pillar recovery, exploring hydrometallurgy for the recovery of lead and adding lead metal recycling to the company’s services.

1. In 1985, refined lead metal plummeted to 19 cents per pound. Zelms focused on innovation and operational efficiency to keep Doe Run moving forward. Under his leadership, the company developed a process that safely recovered lead from mine pillars. To do so, Zelms oversaw complex computer modeling and advanced backfill techniques that ensured crew safety, mine integrity, predictability and return on investment. Zelms helped Doe Run achieve safe pillar recovery by implementing extensive testing in remote areas. By 1991, Doe Run regularly recovered ore from pillars, a first among underground room-and-pillar lead mines. By 1999, this method accounted for 60 percent of Doe Run’s revenues.

2. Committed to research and development, Zelms collaborated with the Italian company Engitec to prove hydrometallurgy could recover lead from Doe Run’s high-grade concentrate. Today after more than 300,000 personnel hours of effort, Doe Run is on the verge of replacing traditional, high-temperature lead smelting with a proprietary hydrometallurgical process that virtually eliminates lead air emissions associated with conventional smelting.

3. Zelms also guided Doe Run into the recycling market, making a significant investment to convert a primary smelter into a secondary producer. Pursuing technology that outperformed existing environmental standards, in 1991, Doe Run became the first U.S. primary lead company with recycling capabilities.

“Jeff’s induction into The National Mining Hall of Fame will bring attention to the importance of lead mining to our country,” said Stanley Dempsey, chairman of the board for The National Mining Hall of Fame. “I think it will also help young people coming into mining understand the importance of the kind of leadership Jeff has provided to Doe Run and the industry.”

Zelms joins more than 200 mining industry pioneers who have been recognized by the Hall of Fame since it opened in 1988. His mining industry career began with Meramec Mining Company (Doe Run predecessor company affiliate) in 1968. During the next 36 years, he climbed the corporate ladder into management roles and ultimately was named president of Doe Run in 1986.

Throughout his career Zelms served in several prominent industry leadership positions for the National Mining Association, Minerals Information Institute, American Mining Congress, Missouri University of Science and Technology’s (MS&T) School of Mines and Metallurgy and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical & Petroleum Engineers. A graduate of Stanford University’s executive program, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering, an Engineer of Mines professional degree and an Alumni Merit Award from MS&T.

About The Doe Run Company
Based in St. Louis, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and the largest integrated lead producer in the Western Hemisphere. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates one of the world’s largest, single-site lead recycling facilities located in Boss, Mo. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiary deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit

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Jenny Rausch
Standing Partnership
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