Ammo Price Surge Expected as EPA Regulations Close Lead Smelter

Ammo Price Surge Expected as EPA Regulations Close Lead Smelter

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, 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.

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