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.
Whatever the EPA's motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition. Just this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will ban lead ammunition for all hunting in California. The Center for Biological Diversity has tried multiple times to get similar regulations at the federal level by trying, and repeatedly failing, to get the EPA to regulate conventional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
At this time, it's unclear if Doe Run or another company will open a new lead smelter in the United States that can meet the more stringent lead air quality standards by using more modern smelting methods. What is clear is that after the Herculaneum smelter closes its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible.
1892 $hit, that's just sad.
I tell lots of stories, some of which are true.
ProStaffer, High Altitude Hunters
I'm buying all of the Chinese kids toys I can find that way I'll have a steady supply of lead I can melt down any time I want it.
"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell, English novelist
I just checked the price of #7 shot lead free was $27.14 for a box of 5. If I drive to Niland for dove season it will cost $200 in fuel about $30 in beverages $30 in food and $2700 in ammo WTF
Niland is a lead free zone? I was heading there on sat but that would be a game changer.
I grew up around Herculaneum MO, we still float the rivers around there. There's a lot of history around them lead mines and some civil war battles if you're ever in that neck of the MO woods.
Jeff "Jesse" James - Owner of Jesse's Hunting & Outdoors
You can always tell who's in 2nd place by who's whining and crying the most. - Old hockey coach.
Dum spiramus tuebimur
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"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a brave and scarce man, hated and scorned. When the cause succeeds, however, the timid join him... for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -Mark Twain
all hunting in CA is lead free 2015 or 2016. Gov Moonbeam signed the new law . pay attention
The measure, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, phases out lead bullets and shot by July 2019, with regulations due by July 2015. I stand corrected it's my add kicking in. Hard time paying attention when CA lawmakers speak