The Doe Run Co., St. Louis, has selected Herculaneum, Mo., as the location for the company’s proposed lead processing plant. The proposed plant would be built near Doe Run’s existing lead smelter. The company says it will discontinue smelting lead concentrates at its Herculaneum plant by the end of 2013 and is on track with the commercial development of its new process. Doe Run says it intends to have the new plant operational to coincide with plans to discontinue primary smelting at the site.
“Selecting the site at this point in the process allows us to gather detailed engineering studies, which will provide us with final capital and operational expense estimates, key inputs needed for our decision-making,” says Gary Hughes, general manager of Doe Run’s Primary Smelting Division, in a news release.
In March 2010 Doe Run announced that it had developed a new lead production process that virtually eliminates lead air emissions and sulfur dioxide emissions by replacing traditional high-temperature furnace smelting with a new, contained wet chemical process. The technology uses a chemical solution to selectively dissolve lead into solution. An electrical charge is applied to the solution to attract lead ions to a metal plate. The process also eliminates the production of slag, a granular byproduct that has to be stored in permitted storage areas.
The company says it expects to spend the next several months completing detailed engineering and pre-construction services. Company executives say they plan to present final capital and operating costs to the board before year’s end to decide whether to go ahead with construction of the first commercial plant in the United States.
“Each step along our way has been backed by thorough research and validated data,” Hughes adds. “We continue to move closer to building the world’s first primary lead metal production plant that addresses concerns about air pollution. This is a world-changing opportunity.” He adds, “Having a way to support our domestic battery manufacturers and other customers with the primary lead metal they need not only protects the environment but also protects U.S. industry.”