St. Louis, Missouri (PRWEB) September 14, 2011
Mining must change to meet modern ideas of environmental stewardship. That was the call to action from Bruce Neil, Doe Run’s president and CEO, who addressed mining peers on August 31, 2011, at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S & T) Innovations in Mining Engineering Conference. As one of the keynote speakers during the Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 conference, Neil advocated for sustainable practices.
“The rate of change will continue to accelerate, stretching companies to identify innovative and unexpected ways to discover more, improve recovery rates and do so with reduced environmental impacts,” said Neil. To improve environmental performance, Neil called for innovation in three key areas of mining: water stewardship, exploration and processing.
Water is present in every stage of the mining process, and it will play an even greater role in metal production for Doe Run in the coming years.
“In a world that is thirsty for water, we are fortunate in Missouri to have ample supply,” said Neil. “New standards from the EPA are 10 to 50 times more stringent than before. To meet these requirements in the next few years, we’ll be building as many as eight new water treatment plants to bring the levels of metals, most notably zinc, into conformity with the new standards.”
Exploration and mining in the U.S. will also become increasingly important, as developing nations compete for natural resources and finished goods worldwide.
“As a nation, we cannot be dependent on foreign supply,” said Neil. “Innovation, and new ways to explore and locate ore bodies here in the U.S., will be critical to meet the needs of technologies and our nation, particularly with regard to lead-acid battery production.”
About 90 percent of Doe Run lead can be found in lead-acid batteries. Meanwhile, demand for lead-acid batteries to power hybrid cars and alternative energy sources such as wind and solar continue to drive global energy needs.
One way Doe Run could meet the needs for continued lead metal production and improved environmental performance is through a promising new technology that recovers lead through a wet-chemical, or electrowinning process. The new technology replaces traditional, high-temperature lead smelting with a proprietary hydrometallurgical process that will revolutionize lead production.
“This new technology has tremendous promise in creating cleaner communities, producing quality lead and alloy products that are essential to alternative energy storage and meeting the growing global demand for lead,” said Neil. “Although commercialization of new processes often takes much longer than we’d like, the importance of having one plant in place could change the world.”
The innovation could allow Doe Run – and thereby the U.S. – to recover more lead. Through the new technology, up to 99 percent of lead is recovered and transformed into finished metal. The innovative process also eliminates slag and virtually eliminates lead and sulfur air emissions.
“Now more than ever, lead has a promising outlook,” added Neil. “Given its tremendous potential for future energy uses, and our recent innovations, lead should continue to be a part of our lives. We’ve found a way, with our new technology, to make the production just as sustainable as the uses.”
To find out more about Doe Run and its efforts, visit http://sustainability.doerun.com/.
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 sustainability.doerun.com.
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