Sierra Bullets On The Shutdown Of The Herculaneum MO Lead Smelter

As has been reported in many places, the Doe Run Company will be closing their lead smelting plant in Herculaneum, Missouri. The closure of the only primary lead smelter or a smelting plant that produces lead from lead ore is due to the EPA’s ten-fold increase in air standards for lead.

The NRA-ILA provided a quick summary:

In December, the final primary lead smelter in the United States will close. The lead smelter, located in Herculaneum, Missouri, and owned and operated by the Doe Run Company, has existed in the same location since 1892.

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.

Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but 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.

Most ammunition uses lead as one of its primary components whether in bullets or lead shot. The question is whether they use recycled lead or lead that comes directly from ore.

Sierra Bullets of Sedalia, Missouri is the first bullet manufacturer that I know of that has addressed the question of whether the plant closure will shut down their supply of lead. The answer is a qualified no.

The main question asked is “Will this shut down your supply of lead.” The answer to that is no. First, Sierra buys lead from several different vendors to maintain constant supply. Second, this facility only smelts primary lead or lead ore. This is lead ore that has just been brought out of the earth. Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has, so we use nothing directly from this facility. The lead we buy from Doe Run comes from their recycling facility in Boss, MO that is about 90 miles away from the smelter that is closing.

The facility we buy from is still going strong and delivering to us as scheduled. The lead from this facility is from recycled lead, mostly coming from car batteries. This is a continuing “in and out” cycle for them and the smelter closing will not affect this facility.

Our supply should not be in jeopardy and we do not anticipate any changes in our supply chain at this time. Could the lack of primary lead create a little more demand for recycled lead? Sure, but how much is unknown. Could this increase in demand also create an increase in price? Sure, but again, by how much is unknown at this time.

There are many other primary lead smelters in the world and so the flow of primary lead will not be shut off. Where there is a need for primary lead, I am sure there will be a salesman more than happy to pick up the business.

If you read their answer closely, they are saying their source of lead seems to be secure. However, the demand for recycled lead will undoubtedly begin to rise as battery manufacturers may increase their consumption of recycled lead. The increase in hybrid and electric cars will also increase the demand for lead-acid batteries.

Ammo prices have risen with demand and I expect they will continue to rise from both ammo demand and demand for the raw materials such as lead. Where it will end, I just don’t know.

34 thoughts on “Sierra Bullets On The Shutdown Of The Herculaneum MO Lead Smelter”

  1. This is just a panic non-issue to gin up increased ammo prices. The gun sheeple have been running in circles since 2008 bleeting, OOOObama! and buying anything they could find-at any price no matter how bad the price gouging. This is just another PANIC— PANIC NOW!!!!! story.—Ray

    1. I grew up near Doe Run, several old friends work there. Good paying steady jobs, great benefits… If Obama is so concerned about saving jobs, especially good union jobs… Wonder why he isn't trying to save those jobs?

    2. Think it through. Sierra is only one of many companies. They buy recycled lead. From car batteries. Which use lead. Where's that come from? and since we are shooting it up, the system can't keep recycling, needs new material coming into this circle. So, new lead will have to be imported, subject to all sorts of government controls, and the falling dollar. So-your batteries will go up, and hence, so will bullets.

  2. No it isnt, I suggest you get your head out of your backside and see what democrats really are doing to this country and "Why"……..

    1. If my head is up my rump that bad, then why did ammo and lead prices triple in 72 hours? Even with no shortage of any kind? (99% of ALL ammo lead is recycled / reclaimed lead and 75% of all ammo sold in the US is manufactured overseas) You need to calm down and lay off the paranoid juice for a while. —Democrat and republicans are ALL guilty of treason. People that support ether party are sheep —Ray

    2. Easy answer…no Republican or Conservative would ever have put such a law in place. Almost all new EPA restrictions are done under Democrats, which push more and more manufacturing jobs overseas.

  3. So, what you're saying is that once this plant closes, 75% of the civilian ammo supply will be vulnerable to an import ban, and it will be too late for us to do anything about it?

    1. Once the UN small arms treaty go's into effect ALL international ammo sales STOP FOREVER. That means 75% of ALL us civilian ammo supply ENDS that day. ALL PMC, ALL RUSSIAN, ALL Yugo, ALL S&B ALL Surplus, PERIOD. THE END- good by forever. It won't matter if the Congress ratifies it or not .The producing nations will be banned from exporting it(ammo, weapons, parts) to the United States, and only 25% of the ammo consumed in the US is made in the US.. Did you guys really think that the DHS riot paranoia was abut FOOD STAMPS? The "import ban" is a done deal it only awaits implementation.—Ray

    2. Where are you getting your "75% of ammo is made overseas" from? The US produces 10-12 Billion rounds a year. In 2009, US consumers bought 12 Billion rounds.

  4. Wrong . . . Wrong . . . Wrong. The Doe Run Company owns TWO primary lead smelters in Missouri, the ancient, dirty, OLD Herculaneum plant that was closed and the Glover MO plant built in the 1960's. The Glover plant (formerly ASARCO) is located just 20 miles from the primary lead mines at Viburnam and Boss, Missouri. The Glover plant is still up and running.

    1. Did you read the story azzhole? It said and I quote "In December, the final primary lead smelter in the United States will close", Just in case you don't know Final means last. Your a dumb phuckin' lib that likes to spread lies and rumors.

  5. One way or another, it WILL increase the price. If they only use recycled lead, that means someone else is using the primary. If there are fewer sources, prices go up. Therefore, the price of recycled lead will have to go up as well. How much will it increase? No one can really say for certain. As for ammo prices tripling, I don't know where you are buying ammo from, but if your prices just tripled, you need to look elsewhere. I am looking where I just ordered some supplies and the prices are DOWN 30 bucks for 1000 rounds from where they were one week ago.

  6. There are several battery technologies used in electric and hybrid vehicles that have a far higher energy density than lead-acid batteries. The closest class of vehicles that still use lead-acid are golf carts and the like.

    1. Good point. Or even the gun manufactures could chip in, but you know it won't happen. They all stand to make $$ when the price of ammo increases. They have no want to keep it low. -Steph

  7. How has the Glover plant been down since 2003 if you WORK, current tense, there? Also, according to friends in the area, the plant in Boss is indeed still going strong.

    1. Why so hateful? Bottom line, if you call your Senators and Representatives with your concerns putting pressure on them you sometimes get action even out of fear! I encourage everyone to call, & write, & fax! Get all your family and friends to do the same, and create a chain by encouraging each to do the same. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and you don't have to be hateful. The Constitutional Girl from MO!

  8. The shut down of the last lead plant for what ever reason will affect the prices of any lead related product including ammunition. The price of ammunition will rise more from demand than unavailability to ammo producers. The public is more responsible for the last fiasco than the fact or rumors from the government regulations that are coming down the pipe. The public will buy, buy and buy more than they can use because they "can" and drive the demand up and up. The prices of 22 shells has sky rocketed to ridiculous prices all due to the American citizens. Is this goal of the government to get the prices of ammunition up to unbearable pricing to curb sales? They are getting the job done thanks to the people that are hording ammunition and stocking up for what???????/. A ban on lead bullets, guns or both. I am sure the ones with thousands of rounds to pass down to their grand kids to blow will be offended with what I have written; but the fact is people act to the smallest of "shortage" rumors to ridiculous proportions. Remember the bogus toilet paper shortage in the 70's? People bought toilet paper by the case; 36 packs of 4 and of course no paper to be had and I am sure people were taking off of work to check the shelves for butt wipe. I even think that if there was nextex classified adds or e-bay there would have been add after add of toilet paper @ triple the normal price to add to the craziness and to assist in price increases. Just don't blame the government but look in the mirror and ask yourself the question; did I take off work to stand in line in hopes to get in on the limit of three boxes of ammo at inflated prices; if so better go buy a case of toilet paper( because you can) so you can wipe your face . That is all I have to say about that!

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