Last Remaining Lead Smelter In The USA Closing After 120 Years

    Suddenly the US Army’s obsession with lead-free ammunition makes perfect sense, it was about security not the environment. A reader writes …

    The last remaining lead smelter, in Herculaneum MO, is closing down.  This will undoubtedly affect the price of lead, since the lead that is mined in Viburnum MO will now be sent out of the US for smelting.

    Missouri’s Lead Belt has been the primary source of lead for the US since 1700.  A lead smelter has been in operation in Herculaneum since 1892.  This is why Lake City, Federal, and other ammunition companies have been located in the region.  The recent articles on shot towers don’t really apply to the ammunition industry that existed on the bluffs of the Mississippi river, since no tower was needed.  The top of the ‘shot tower’ was simply an overhang by the river.

    The EPA’s new clean air rules would require a $100 million dollar investment in new equipment.  As such, the Doe Run Company has decided to close the site.

    According to STL Today reports that the 145 jobs will be lost and the company will terminate 73 contractors. My understanding is that most, if not all, mines that produce lead ore in the USA also produce a number of other minerals, so this does not necessarily mean job losses in the mining sector.

    With the USA no longer producing lead, almost all of the worlds lead will come from China, Australia and Peru.

    lead production

    Worldwide Lead Production (Truncated) (2007)


    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!