Invested in Our Community
25 Sep 2018
Southeast Missouri boasts many beautiful rural communities that our employees call home.
Understanding what residents of those communities have on their mind is important to us, so we regularly survey our neighbors. We use their feedback in our decision-making and community outreach efforts. In 2017, we conducted our third community survey in seven years with residents living near Viburnum, Boss, Herculaneum, Glover and the Old Lead Belt.
“A reoccurring theme of the survey results is concern for quality jobs in the area, and the opportunity they bring to future generations,” said Mark Coomes, vice president – human resources and community relations. “Our neighbors want their families to have the ability to get a good job close to home. That’s why we are investing heavily in our area’s future workforce through education.”
In 2017, Doe Run donated $10,000 to add Project Lead The Way curriculum to the Valley R-VI School District. This four-year science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum prepares students to solve real-world problems in a collaborative environment. For example, students use lab equipment to run DNA sampling and learn the correlations between genetics and disease.
“Project Lead The Way benefits schools that educate many of our employees’ children,” said Tom Yanske, Doe Run mine services manager, who helped foster the partnership with Valley R-VI. “The new STEM curriculum exposes 65 students in grades 7-12 to critical science-based, problem-solving skills.”
As a professional engineer, Tom understands the value of hands-on STEM learning and has passed that along to his three children who have pursued careers in engineering, information technologies and education. Nearly 20 percent of all current U.S. jobs require STEM skills or training, and that requirement will only increase. STEM careers don’t require advanced degrees in areas like engineering. Nearly half of STEM jobs don’t need a four-year degree, including metal production and mining careers.
“Virtually every job at Doe Run requires some mastery of STEM skills,” said Tom. “For example, our maintenance team applies science daily by using their knowledge of how electricity and hydraulics work to repair machinery. A number of our miners operate loaders with remote controls, similar to remotes used for gaming. STEM thinking provides foundational skills that prepare students for mining careers and other jobs that will evolve with technological advances.”
Garnering positive feedback from both students and parents, Project Lead The Way plans to add a second course at the Valley R-VI high school and expand to the elementary classes in the next two years.
Doe Run also contributed to the following STEM education initiatives in the area in 2017:
- Annually, we provide $10,000 in scholarships to Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) and Mineral Area College.
- Company employees visit local elementary schools to lead hands-on activities that teach children about the importance of minerals.
- We donated $50,000 to Missouri S&T for a new Ingersoll Rand R1101 air compressor. The equipment gives students hands-on experience with real tools used in our mines for their drilling and blasting classes.
- We created our Nursing Scholarship Fund to provide a $1,000 per semester scholarship for students enrolling in the new nursing program at Southwest Baptist University’s (SBU) Salem campus.
Our industry continues to grow, with an expected 50,000 new mining employees by 2019, and 2 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade. Doe Run is investing in STEM education in our region so our children are ready for the mining careers and high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
Addressing Environmental Impacts
Our survey also asked community members about how they perceive Doe Run. In our 2012 survey results, we heard that the community expected us to do a better job meeting environmental obligations. Since then, we’ve made significant investments that improve our environmental impact. Our neighbors now rank our ability to meet our environmental obligations as one of our top three performing areas.
“We’ve completed a five-year $73 million upgrade to our water treatment process and made other investments at Resource Recycling to reduce environmental impact,” said Mark. “We’re proud of how these accomplishments positively impact our people, our community and our shared natural resources.”
Areas for Improvement in 2018
In 2017, our communities helped us identify areas of improvement where we will focus our efforts in the future. Our neighbors want to see Doe Run even more involved in our community. As lead prices declined sharply during the last few years, we scaled back some community outreach.
When lead prices rebounded in 2017, we’re again focusing more on community involvement. We are looking at company resources and facilities, which could be repurposed to support access to health care in the Viburnum area, and expanding support of STEM activities in Rolla. We also are continuing to support annual community events, such as Old Miners’ Days and Fall Rocks.
The survey feedback also revealed frustration about our property tax appeal in Reynolds County.
The appeal was originally brought on by a more than 30 percent increase in the tax bill for our mining operations.
When we appealed the assessment, it became clear there was not a defined process for valuing our property. We are committed to seeing the appeal to its endpoint in order to have a defined method for property tax valuation. During the appeal process, we continue to pay the full assessed value of the property.
“We are committed to paying our fair share of taxes and are eager to have a definition of how property taxes should be computed rather than continue in an arbitrary process,” said Mark. “We would like to see a decision reached as soon as possible for the benefit of the county, its residents and our company, so we can continue to operate here for years to come.”