2018 Message from the CEO
16 Aug 2019
Welcome to The Doe Run Company’s 2018 Sustainability Report. This marks the 10th anniversary of our inaugural report utilizing Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators.
A critical part of our mission is to deliver a sustainable supply of select minerals, metals and services that meet the changing needs of the world’s growing population. We do this by balancing our social, economic and environmental responsibilities as we mine lead, copper and zinc from underground mines in Missouri. We also recycle lead batteries and other lead waste to return this vital metal to be used in batteries and other products. These annual sustainability reports provide us with an opportunity to reflect on how we are living up to our Sustainability Principles, and provide transparent updates to our stakeholders and communities.
Global Market Challenges & Opportunities
Lead metal prices, as reported on the London Metal Exchange, recovered in 2017 from a period of softness in 2015 and 2016, but declined by 3% in 2018. In addition, tariffs put in place by China on lead, copper and zinc imports had a negative economic impact on the company, since significant portions of our concentrates are sold to Asia.
Despite price pressures, we expanded our exploration efforts and added new ore bodies to our resources (we locate new resources at about the same rate as we mine them), including some that contain other high-value metals. These resources include cobalt, a highly desirable metal for batteries. In the past, these cobalt reserves could not be mined economically. Doe Run has piloted a proprietary process to extract cobalt and other valuable metals from complex ores. The company is actively working to commercialize this process in conjunction with expansion of its mines. Cobalt reserves in Missouri have the potential to position the state as a battery production center based on its geology, battery manufacturing and recycling plants, its central location, and access to rail, highway and river transportation.
Growth opportunities must be balanced with ongoing commitments. Doe Run is the last of what once was several hundred lead mining companies that operated in Missouri. Over the last 10 years, Doe Run has spent nearly $70 million remediating historical sites, some of which were previously remediated to earlier requirements. We are committed to paying our fair share for clean-up of the mining operations of our predecessors, but we believe clean-up should be based on risk-based science. Read more about our remediation efforts.
Missouri Impact and the Future
As a major employer in southeastern Missouri, Doe Run’s economic contribution is significant. We spent more than $181 million on Missouri vendors in 2018 and $1.78 billion over the last 10 years. We also paid more than $106 million in royalties in the last 10 years. Overall, our Missouri economic impact is estimated at approximately 1 billion dollars per year.
Over the last 10 years, we have spent nearly $450 million on environmental projects, including nearly $73 million spent over five years to construct new water treatment plants. Many of these projects also significantly increased our ongoing operating costs.
Regulatory spending is a common challenge for industries like ours, putting pressure on our ability to expand operations or invest in new technologies. Nevertheless, after years of planning and implementation, we are pleased to be the first company in the U.S. to install the Railveyor underground electric rail system to transport ore for milling. Innovations that reduce costs and improve performance are vital to sustaining our industry and strengthen the underlying foundation of the business.
Our commitment to building a lasting future for our company requires additional talent to help us achieve our goals. In 2018, we hired 177 new employees, many to replace retiring employees. Based on national labor statistics as well as mining industry labor growth projections, we expect hiring demands to continue. Doe Run offers strong benefits and average wages that are higher than those reported for mining and manufacturing in Missouri. We encourage those interested in joining our team to check out our careers page regularly.
We firmly believe that workforce development should start early. We sponsor a number of educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to prepare our future workforce, including curriculum support, college and university scholarships, summer camps and tuition reimbursement for employees. In 2018, we contributed $178,987 to these efforts. We also supported the communities where we operate by donating property, valued at $1.6 million, to support healthcare and emergency response services. .
Safety is fundamental to our company, and we achieved several health and safety milestones at our operations, and have drastically reduced blood-lead levels of employees to well below regulatory requirements. In order to operate safely, we train and prepare. In 2018, our own Steve Setzer, Doe Run electrician and mine rescue team captain, was inducted into the National Mine Rescue Hall of Fame for his contributions to mine rescue training.
Sometimes, even the best training and safety practices are insufficient. As we prepared this report in 2019, we were deeply saddened that we recently lost a good friend and employee in an accident at our recycling facility. We are cooperating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate the cause of the accident.
Batteries’ Role in Clean Energy
Batteries have a tremendous role in the path toward cleaner energy. While no single chemistry can perform all duties equally, lead’s advantages of being safer, more sustainable, domestically sourced, 99% recycled and affordable make it a clear choice not only for electric vehicles but also for renewable energy storage. Global energy demand is expected to increase by 30% between 2018 and 2040, and it’s clear that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will be needed to meet this demand. We are proud to be among an elite group of companies supporting research at Argonne National Laboratories, aimed at establishing a foundation for the next generation of advanced lead battery technology.
The lead battery industry as a whole has an annual economic impact of $28.5 billion to the U.S. economy and provides more than 20,000 jobs in 30 states. Approximately 70% of the lead used by U.S. battery manufactures is sourced domestically through recycling. Doe Run is part of this success story – we recycle approximately 13.5 million batteries at our Resource Recycling facility each year.
The challenges and opportunities our business faces are not unique. A strong U.S. economy means consumers and employees have more choices and increased leverage. Regulation inequities across the globe also impact companies like ours. After being in business for 154 years, we are experienced in managing the risks and embracing the opportunities of our industry because of the deep talent in our organization. We invite you to learn more about our company through our sustainability stories and data tables, and welcome your feedback here.
Jerry L. Pyatt
President and CEO