Doe Run Executive Discusses Challenges and Opportunities Facing North America's Lead Industry

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North America Adjusts to Loss of Primary Lead Metal Production Capabilities

Today, Jose Hansen, vice president – sales and marketing at The Doe Run Company (Doe Run), spoke on the transitioning North American lead industry at the 7th World Lead Conference in Milan, Italy. As one of the featured speakers during the international conference, Hansen highlighted some of the key challenges and opportunities that impact the industry.

“North America is adjusting to the fact that the U.S. no longer produces primary lead metal,” Hansen said. “The result is lead metal imports to the U.S. have reached an all-time high of 464,000 metric tons in 2014.”

Lead imports to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada have doubled since 2012. Imports from other countries have increased 3.5 times. Imported lead is predominantly secondary or recycled lead.
While imports to the U.S. are increasing, North American total refined lead production has declined by 131,000 metric tons in 2014 compared to 2012. Most of the lost production is a result of the closure of Doe Run’s Herculaneum smelter in December 2013.

“For 2014, the decreased production placed North America in a deficit of 63,000 metric tons,” Hansen added. “Fortunately, manufacturers anticipated a shortage and appear to have been prepared for the near-term.

“Access to lead metal is vital to our battery manufacturers here in the U.S.,” Hansen continued.
“Lead-based batteries start 1 billion vehicles world-wide, and are an important export product for U.S. companies. With a recycle rate of 98 percent, they are the most recycled product on the planet, and are an affordable energy storage product.

“Other major issues facing the U.S. lead industry are tightening regulations,” Hansen said. “Environmental, transportation and product regulations are creating new challenges for mining companies, metal producers, recyclers and the supply chain. The added costs challenge companies who must compete on a global level.”

Despite the challenges, Hansen believes advanced lead-based batteries will play a vital role in powering the next generation of mild hybrid cars, and are the future for affordable renewable energy storage. “We have already seen advanced lead-based batteries reach more than 100,000 miles without loss of power in mild hybrid demonstration cars. Recently, both General Motors and Ford Motor Company announced the use of advanced lead-based batteries in hybrid vehicles. The batteries are safe, reliable and compared to other chemistries, much more affordable, making consumer acceptance of hybrid vehicles more attainable.”

Hansen shared his remarks at the World Lead Conference, held on March 11-12. At the conference, stakeholders in the lead industry discuss dynamic market conditions, challenges and opportunities for primary and secondary lead metal producers, and developing technologies that could impact the industry.

About The Doe Run Company
Based in St. Louis, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and a global provider of lead, copper and zinc concentrates. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates one of the world’s largest, single-site lead recycling centers, located in Boss, Missouri. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiaries deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit http://www.doerun.com and sustainability.doerun.com.
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Alli Wentling
Standing Partnership
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