2020 Letter from the CEO
8 Jun 2021
Welcome to our 2020 Sustainability Report. Thank you for taking time to learn more about Doe Run and our environmental, social and economic commitments.
The past year has been unlike any other as our world faced the COVID-19 pandemic. As society adjusted to changing situations, many of the freedoms, services and relationships we may have previously taken for granted came into greater focus. While the outlook with respect to the pandemic and its economic impact is improving, l know this has been a devastating time for many people, communities and businesses. Our hearts go out to them.
This past year also emphasized the critical services and products that are required to keep our country functioning, including the services of first responders, health care providers, and those supporting agriculture, energy and transportation. As a part of the circular economy of lead batteries, we too support the critical infrastructure that helped to protect human life.
- Lead batteries provided back-up power to the many hospitals that cared for the influx of patients.
- Lead batteries also served as back-up power for telecommunications, so people could stay virtually connected to their jobs, schools and loved ones.
- And as more people relied on online shopping and delivery services, lead batteries started the trucks and cars that brought food and other essentials directly to their homes.
As an essential business, supporting the transportation and energy sectors, Doe Run continued to operate throughout the pandemic to provide the minerals and metals needed to help power our world. While employee safety is always a priority, operating throughout the pandemic did require us to be even more vigilant about keeping our employees and their families safe. Our health and safety team implemented the CDC’s guidelines to keep employees safe at work, such as wearing masks, social distancing and, if needed, contact tracing. We are pleased to report that we have maintained production throughout the pandemic. As of this writing, we have not received notification from employees, medical providers or health departments that they believe a positive COVID-19 case was due to an exposure at work. Read more about how we are approaching safety here.
Our business, like many others, faced other impacts of the pandemic, including financial hardship as the global economy struggled to adapt. Coming on the heels of an extended period of tariffs on lead concentrate sales, the pandemic further weakened lead concentrate demand. To adjust, we took several measures early on, and additional measures as needed, to improve the company’s financial position, including deferring or eliminating non-mandatory capital expenditures and other spending, and negotiating better supplier and financial terms. As a last resort, we also made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce. These decisions are never made lightly, but by taking proper measures we have been able to weather the impact. As I write this update, concentrate demand is strong and we are optimistic about the recovering economy.
As one of the largest employers in our region, Doe Run is essential to the communities where we operate. We employ local people, support local businesses, provide a tax base, and support schools and nonprofits through donations. Part of being a sustainable business is making sure we can continue to provide these economic benefits for our communities for the long term.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Doe Run continues to maintain our sustainability commitments. We balance our social, economic and environmental responsibilities with an eye to the future. Readers can track our performance data here. We continue to remediate historic mining properties left behind by our predecessors. We’re also protecting land we own throughout Southeast Missouri through responsible forestry management efforts.
For many of us, this past year reinforced just how important our loved ones are to us. In addition to our health and safety protocols for COVID-19, new programs and new technologies, such as our maintenance pre-shift inspection app, help us protect employees and improve safety performance.
Doe Run also continued to support our communities through donations to local school districts and universities to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. We also spent more than $164 million with local suppliers and businesses, helping them weather the challenging year.
Lead batteries start virtually every vehicle in the world, and in the U.S., approximately 73% of the lead required domestically is produced by U.S. lead recycling companies, including Doe Run. The fact that lead batteries are 99% recycled and that lead can be re-used infinitely for batteries makes the lead battery the gold standard of a circular economy.
With that in mind, it is not surprising that as the total battery market grows (which is expected to reach ~ $150B in 2030, according to 2020 Avicenne Research commissioned by the Consortium of Battery Innovation), the lead battery market will also expand to a projected $49B by 2030. This growth will require more than the recycled lead produced in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. imports approximately 450,000 metric tonnes of lead metal, primarily from Canada and Mexico. As the demand for batteries grows, so will the need for more lead metal.
But lead is not the only metal necessary for an expanding economy. Zinc and copper each have a role in stored energy and electricity transmission. Doe Run’s mines also produce zinc and copper concentrates. Zinc is essential to modern technologies, like satellites and electronic circuits, protects buildings from rust and corrosion, and is an important dietary mineral. This past year, we piloted VisioFroth™ technology at our Brushy Creek Mill, helping us to recover more zinc from the flotation process. The VisioFroth technology enables us to be better stewards of the natural resources in our care and to take advantage of the market by recovering more metal.
While it is clear that expanding economies across the globe will put a strain on minerals and metals, it is equally clear that we must strive to provide these materials as responsibly as possible. Doe Run continues to explore new technologies that can produce critical metals while reducing environmental impact, as well as technologies that can recover more value from the mineral processing.
Throughout the past year, we often heard about people and companies navigating “these uncertain times.” But 2020 also reminded us of what we are certain about. We are certain that operating a safe and responsible business is paramount to our employees and communities. We are certain that protecting our environment must always be a priority. And we are certain that lead has a bright future and will continue to be essential to our global infrastructure.
We invite you to learn more about our company through our sustainability stories and performance data, and we welcome your feedback here.
Jerry L. Pyatt
President and CEO