Allen West is wrong… Closing of lead smelting plant will not increase cost of ammo

It’s a sexy story. “The EPA in a backdoor move by the Obama administration is forcing the last lead smelting plant in the United States to close… resulting in what’s certain to be a reduction of supply of ammo, and increased costs.” But it’s simply not true.

There is a part of the story that is interesting. Supposedly the EPA released new guidelines that required the smelter in question to spend a bunch of money to upgrade it. Many people say it was an old, “dirty” operation that needed to close anyway. But the closure of the Missouri plant at the end of this year will have little if any effect on the production of ammunition in the United States, for the simple fact the plant didn’t supply hardly any lead to the industry.

Even Allen West fell for the story.

I am one who steers very clear of tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.

Yeah. OK.

The first contact the EPA made with The Doe Run Lead Smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri (population 2,800) was in 2008 but it was in 2010 that the EPA finally forced Doe Run to plan a shut down. This plant has been in operation since 1892 but will finally close its doors this month. It was the last lead smelting plant in the US.

The closedown is due to new extremely tight air quality restrictions placed on this specific plant. President Obama and his EPA raised the regulations by 10 fold and it would have cost the plant $100 million to comply.

There is evidence the place was kind of a mess, but that’s beside the point of my post.

What this all means is that after December 2013, any ammunition that will be available to US citizens will have to be imported, which will surely increase the price and possibly come under government control. It seems this is fully in concert with the US Military and Homeland Defense recent purchase of large quantities of ammunition.

The effect is chilling: you can own all the guns you want, but if you can’t get ammo, you are out of luck.

Oh. My.

First of all, there are a lot of ammunition manufactures within the United States and almost none of them buy lead from this factory. This smelter was a primary source of lead from iron ore. The thing is, there are plenty of lead smelters in the country who recycle lead and that’s where almost all of the US ammo manufactures get their lead!

To state again, US manufactures get their lead from the secondary, recycle market. Stuff like recycled batteries and other scrap sources, not from primary sources like the plant in Missouri. One of the top manufactures of ammunition in the US had to put this at the top of their list of frequently asked questions.


At this time we do not anticipate any additional strain on our ability to obtain lead.

More reading…

And from Sierra Bullets.

The main question asked is “Will this shut down your supply of lead?”  The answer to that is no.  First, Sierra buys lead from several different vendors to maintain constant supply.  Second, this facility only smelts primary lead or lead ore.  This is lead ore that has just been brought out of the earth.  Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has, so we use nothing directly from this facility.  The lead we buy from Doe Run comes from their recycling facility in Boss, MO that is about 90 miles away from the smelter that is closing.

16 replies
  1. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    “The evil that men do lives on: the good is oft interred with their bones.” – William Shakespeare.?
    Richard Nixon gave us the EPA whose record of mission creep has been astoundingly harmful to freedom.? I’m sure the article has given many of our closet totalitarians more ideas of how to bring about gun control (actually people control) by indirect means.

  2. PaulBartomioli
    PaulBartomioli says:

    Steve, all true. I have friends in high places at Hornady and Winchester. ?My friend at Winchester knows of the plant, peripherally. My Hornady contact had never heard of it. They both told me they buy recycled lead. It is cleaner than the smelted product, probably because it is smelted, “cleaned” for original use, then “cleaned” again to be sold as recycled. A major source? ?Wheel weights from m0t0r vehicles. ?As an old cast bullet guy, I would spend some time at junkyards picking up the wheel weights on the ground. Made nice reasonably hard cast round balls for my muzzleloader.

  3. bien-pensant
    bien-pensant says:

    So the real story is the EPA and the Obama regime have forced another American business to close its operation forever. Increasing government control and regulations are killing American jobs and American prosperity.
    Coal fired generating plants all over the country are being forced to close because of EPA regulations and the regime.
    Not only is West wrongheaded, did he plagiarize another writer, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton?

  4. Gary J
    Gary J says:

    ? Nice post Steve. Superb homework. One question remains in my mind. Where does the lead that is in batteries come from? Seems to me if you take out a supplier in this country the difference has to be made up somewhere and that usually costs more. Their customers have to find another source right? The government started buying up ammo and made it tougher to get it to normal dealers. Price of ammo has gone up for those that didn’t have a good stockpile.

  5. SeeingRed
    SeeingRed says:

    Thanks Steve – the only thing I’d add or question is the overall impact of eliminating an original source of lead from ore from the overall picture.? At some point, less ‘raw’ product has to drive up prices of anything that uses that product (battery plates, wheel weights?).? And/or the missing amount of raw product needs to be imported to reestablish equilibrium….? From my perch this will drive up bullet costs if for no other reason than it’s what the Admin wants to have happen.

    • bien-pensant
      bien-pensant says:

      Lead is elemental and is almost infinitely recyclable. There is no real difference between freshly smelted and refined lead and recycled, refined lead. Being an element, once you get impurities and/or added metals, i.e., antimony, tin, etc, out of it, you have lead again. Neat.
      Start saving those wheel weights.

      • SeeingRed
        SeeingRed says:

        That’s true – I get that – but the argument that the closing of the plant will have no affect on bullet/ammo pricing assumes 100% recycling of the refined product.? I admittedly don’t know the % of lead product that’s recycled in the US, but assuming it’s <100% we’re still running downhill and a void created by the closing of this/any plant that originates Pb from ore, no?

  6. Steven
    Steven says:

    Recycling lead will work as long as lead is allowed to be used in things like batteries and weights.? Due to it being a hazardous substance its only a matter of time until its use becomes an issue real or imagined – like freon or other substances which are deemed a problem.? The environmentalists have been trying to stop the use of lead in ammunition for years – they were successful with waterfowl hunting and that was just the beginning.? No tin-foil here – just sensing the usual incremental steps toward the goal.? This may or may not be one of them but without a doubt they are after lead.

    • bien-pensant
      bien-pensant says:

      Very good points. Lead and shooting just go together. Lead had many of the attributes that make it a perfect projectile. Bismuth just isn’t the same for shooting.
      Tight now the issue is the EPA and the regime closing another American business that has been around for over a hundred years. I am sure the lead recycling issue is already on the banners radar.So, with the closing of the last ore smelter, the banners are incrementally one step closer to their goal.
      The campaign to vilify lead and portray it as evil will intensify, Just look at what these idiots have done to carbon. The low-information average person thinks that compounds such as? CO2, C6H12O2, CO and H2O should be banned.
      Just ask ’em. They probably want the lead out of their potato chips.(It is in chips, right?)

      • sammy22
        sammy22 says:

        Not that it matters much in this discussion, but lead does not need to be vilified further, unless you have not read about lead poisoning.

  7. Steve McGough
    Steve McGough says:

    OK. Let’s say this does increase the cost of ammo by a fraction of a penny. The point of this post is to call out West. He stated – and probably plagiarized – the following: “What this all means is that after December 2013, any ammunition that will be available to US citizens will have to be imported…”

    That’s a total fabrication. If you’re willing to let West slide just a little bit on this, we have a bigger problem.

    • mentalmidgets
      mentalmidgets says:

      Not defending West here but this could impact prices quite a bit. ?Since the purchasers of lead from this factory will move to secure it from other sources including recycled. ?As for EPA’s motives we have only reasonable and unreasonable doubts and the attempt to put a pinch on the economics of gun ownership is in the reasonable category. ? After all you are talking about an administration who’s Census department created 60k+ fake people and gave them jobs to manipulate employment statistics before the 2012 elections. ?So at this point calling any conspiracy theory crazy is like flipping a quarter.?

Comments are closed.