Ammo Price Surge Expected as EPA Regulations Close Lead Smelter

By AWR Hawkins

Doe Run Company's Herculaneum Lead Smelter
Doe Run Company's Herculaneum Lead Smelter
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Washington DC – -( Because of heightened EPA regulations, Doe Run Company's Herculaneum lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri—the last U.S. smelter of its kind—is closing its doors on December 31, 2013.

Once this happens, all the lead for traditional ammunition will have to be imported, thus driving up the price for bullets, shotgun shells, etc.

The Herculaneum smelter has been operating in the same location since 1892. And according to the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “it is the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore,” so once it closes, the only lead smelters left in the nation will be ones that recycle lead from existing items “such as lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components.”

Herculaneum's product is the type of lead used to make components for traditional lead ammunition, and once the smelter closes, such lead and/or ammunition components will have to be imported into the U.S. Ammunition prices are expected to rise, reflecting import costs.

In 2008, the EPA “issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard.” Following the release of this standard, the Doe Run Company tried to bring the Herculaneum smelter into compliance but in 2010 realized the cost of compliance was too great.

They then reached a “comprehensive settlement” with both the EPA and the state of Missouri, requiring the smelter to close at the end of 2013.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.

AWR Hawkins writes for all the BIG sites, for Pajamas Media, for, for and now AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

His southern drawl is frequently heard discussing his take on current events on radio shows like America's Morning News, the G. Gordon Liddy Show, the Ken Pittman Show, and the NRA's Cam & Company, among others. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal (summer 2010), and he holds a PhD in military history from Texas Tech University.

If you have questions or comments, email him at [email protected] You can find him on facebook at

  • 13 thoughts on “Ammo Price Surge Expected as EPA Regulations Close Lead Smelter

    1. if most ammo manufactures,get there lead from car bat, and etc. then car batteries will go up ,ergo ,so will recycled crap

    2. Instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act, Doe Run has made a business decision to shut down its lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., by Dec. 31, 2013.

      The decision to close the smelter was a business decision made by Doe Run. EPA did not place such requirements on the Doe Run Corporation. Questions about the business decision are better answered by the company.

      The lead used in ammunition in the civilian marketplace in the United States comes almost exclusively from secondary sources, such as recycled car batteries. The National Sports Shooting Foundation (working with ammunition manufacturers has said that it does not foresee the closing of the Herculaneum smelter, which processes primary lead, from having any effect on cost or availability of traditional lead ammunition.

      As for the banning of lead shot –

      The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups have long pushed for tighter restrictions on lead ammunition, arguing that the bullets containing the potent neurotoxin pose a threat to wildlife.

      Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in May 2013 that EPA acted within its authority in denying a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups to limit the use of lead bullets under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.

      The petition was the second from the center and other wildlife groups. EPA denied the groups’ 2010 petition, saying TSCA didn’t grant it authority over lead ammunition. Federal Court has upheld EPA’s position in two different cases filed by environmental advocates.

    3. I don’t know that this story is fear mongering. The lead plant closing cannot be a good thing. The Obama Administration has tried to have laws passed to limit our second amendment rights and have used the family of victims of the gun crimes as pawns to gain support. So much of our manufacturing and raw material production is not done on US soil anymore. The Fed better hope we don’t have to fight a global war.

      The EPA is way out of control. They should talk to China about what they doing to keep the plant clean, as well as a number of 3rd world countries that ignore everything.

    4. This plant needs to stay open and get exempt from these new EPA rules.

      It is a matter of national security to have this plant stay open.

    5. It’s ridiculous propaganda articles such as this that has caused the fear-induced panics that have lead to the ammo shortages of the past and present. For starters, this story is well over a month old on most other industry news boards. Second, had the author done a little research they would have discovered that the ammunition manufacturers predominantly use recycled lead (98%), not newly smelted lead. Third, the lead used in bullets isn’t even pure led, it’s a lead alloy and has been for many, many decades.

      If you want the real story and how it WILL NOT affect ammunition production read this story:

    6. Several ammunition makers have weighed in on this and they’ve said that they get their lead from recyclers, primarily from old batteries, so they do not expect to see any shortage of supply in the near to medium term.

      That’s not to say that closing the smelter is a positive thing – there does need to be some source of virgin material because recycling is not a closed loop.

      And Dr. Strangelove is spot on about the EPA.

    7. Frank is right, but as Col. West pointed out, this is a trend. The EPA is tightening the screws on all aspects of manufacturing, refining, distribution, etc. Bit by bit they are making it more difficult to do anything here.

    8. Fear Mongering???
      Hey Frank lets try this again this time with your American Patriot hat on:

      Herculaneum’s product is the type of lead used to make components for traditional lead ammunition, and once the smelter closes, such lead and/or ammunition components will have to be imported into the U.S. Ammunition prices are expected to rise, reflecting import costs.

    9. SO tell me why the ammo prices are going to surge. Ammo manufactures don’t use virgin lead, they use recycled stuff, mostly from batteries. More fear mongering is all this is.

    10. More proof of what a disaster the 17th amendment to the Constitution has proven to be. Federal regulatory commissions are out of control and are being used to circumvent States rights and local control of natural resources. Senators no longer represent their respective States: They have become agents of the Federal Government. This has destroyed a very important check and balance that the framers if the constitution built in to prevent the over reach and growth of Federal power and control. The issue of the lead smelter is but one issue of thousands. Repealing the 17th amendment is one solution. Throwing bum Senators out if office is another. But currently we have a President who is continuously violating the constitution and behaving as a dictator. He is controlling and destroying our lives, our land, our heritage, our economy, our freedom through over regulation, with the help of the Senate. He has committed crimes and should be impeached.
      It is long overdue for American citizens to wake up and get involved, be informed with true facts, and wield the power of their votes in unison to reign in our corrupt, inept federal government.

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