A New Day for Herculaneum

2013 Sustainability Report | Posted in Economic, Our Business, Social


“The new Mississippi River port officially opened in September 2013. The port’s first tenant, St. Louis-based Mississippi Sand, ships sand to oil and natural gas producers across the U.S. from the new Herculaneum port.”

December 2013 marked an end for primary smelting in the U.S. and a new day in the history of the Herculaneum community. Located along the bluffs of the Mississippi River, early Herculaneum settlers used shot towers to capitalize on the heights of the bluffs to produce lead shot. The town was also home to Doe Run’s primary smelter – the nation’s last producer of primary lead metal.

The Herculaneum smelter was built in 1892, and although it had gone through tremendous upgrades over the years, Doe Run agreed to close the smelter as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We believe the future for primary lead production is the proprietary lead-metal electrowinning process we developed and first announced in 2010,” said Gary Hughes, general manager, Metals Division. “We are pursuing the right conditions to build a commercial-scale plant that utilizes this new technology.”

Since the plant’s closure impacted employees, the local community, and customers, the company took several measures to prepare each of these stakeholders for the closure.


Career Center: Doe Run’s on-site Career Center provided skill assessments, resume building and job search support.

Employee Support 


Closure of the Herculaneum smelter meant a period of transition for nearly 300 Doe Run employees. “Our employees are skilled, dedicated and hardworking,” said Pat Garey, talent manager for the company. “During this transition, it was our job to help them prepare for the future.

Fifteen months before the smelter closed, the company launched an on-site Career Center that served as a comprehensive resource for transition services, such as skill assessments and skill building, resume preparation, job search, small business opportunity advising, retirement counseling, and more.

“We offered 16 hours of paid time for employees to use the Career Center, and provided access before and after work,” Garey said. “More than 200 employees took advantage of the center. By the end of the year, 66 employees had accepted positions in other areas of the company, 16 indicated they would retire, and 85 remained at the facility to assist with closure, alloying and casting. Employees who stayed until the plant closed were offered stay bonuses, severance packages and full profit sharing.”

“Our goal in Herculaneum was to finish strong and show employees our continued appreciation of their work,” Hughes added. “I’m proud we were able to deliver on both accounts.”

Community Commitment

The history of the town and smelter in Herculaneum are intertwined. Construction of the smelter ignited growth that led to a vibrant community. During this shared history, the smelter’s operations helped fund fire stations, bridges, ball fields, railroads, educational opportunities, parks, and a golf course. Support continues today. Starting with an energy audit by Missouri-based Microgrid Energy in 2012, Doe Run will invest more than $500,000 between 2012 and 2014 for the installation of solar panels and other energy efficiency upgrades at Herculaneum High School as part of a previously announced agreement. Also, seven Jefferson County, Mo., school districts received grants from Doe Run totaling $300,000 to retrofit diesel-powered school bus engines and reduce exhaust emissions by up to 90 percent.


Invested in Our Communities: The new solar panels and additional energy efficiency upgrades are projected to save the school more than $44,000 annually. Missouri University of Science & Technology and Microgrid Energy also developed curriculum based on the project so students could learn how renewable energy sources work.

In addition to community investments, Doe Run remains committed to repurposing the Herculaneum property. In spring 2012, Doe Run announced plans to work with developer Riverview Commerce Park LLC (RCP) to prepare the site for new business opportunities. The property includes approximately 450 acres, nearly two miles of Mississippi River shoreline, onsite railroad access and close proximity to an interstate. Read more about RCP’s new rail and port facility.

As a part of the smelter closure, Doe Run submitted a proposed remediation and cleanup plan to the EPA. During the closure and redevelopment, Doe Run will continue monitoring the air and soil in accordance with regulations.

“Doe Run’s support of the Herculaneum community won’t end with the smelter closure,” said Hughes. “We hope our partnership with the community will provide for a vibrant future for Herculaneum.”

Customer Focus

Closing the last primary lead smelter in America created challenges for customers who relied on the smelter’s lead metal for batteries, radiation shielding and other uses.


Meeting Customer Needs: In its last year of operation in 2013, Doe Run’s Herculaneum produced 124,900 tons of finished lead metal and alloys, providing customers the lead needed for car batteries, radiation protection, backup power sources, military applications, and other uses.

“Our goal during the last year of operation was to help our customers through a period of transition and minimize disruption,” said Jose Hansen, Doe Run vice president – sales and marketing. “We worked together in a variety of ways to ease the transition – whether it was helping them to source other primary lead, refining customer-supplied lead to their specifications, or exploring the use of secondary lead for their needs. We wanted to minimize their disruption.”

“Doe Run’s support of the Herculaneum community won’t end with the smelter closure.”
Gary Hughes, general manager, Metals Division

Fortunately, Doe Run also operates one of the world’s largest single-site lead recycling centers – also known as a secondary lead smelter. Secondary lead is used in many, although not all, applications for lead products. Even with secondary lead production available in the U.S., following the closure of the Herculaneum plant, some primary lead will have to be imported to meet the national demand for lead.



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