In 2015, Doe Run improved efficiency and reduced the environmental impact of its Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division (SEMO) operations by investing in two environmental projects. These projects helped fulfill the company’s environmental commitments as part of an agreement with the state of Missouri and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Doe Run is delivering on the promises we made to our local communities to improve our shared environment,” said Jerry Pyatt, Doe Run president and CEO. “Since reaching the agreement in 2010, we have invested more than $2 million in a series of environmental improvement projects at our SEMO facilities, as well as at several schools throughout southeastern Missouri. These investments support our continued promise to operate our business in a sustainable manner, minimize our impact and benefit our communities.”
Projects Harnessing Natural Resources
Not only does Doe Run mine the valuable metallic minerals in southeast Missouri, the company also relies on natural resources like water to support and, in some cases, improve operations. In 2015, Doe Run implemented an alternative way to heat and cool buildings by tapping into geothermal energy, and thereby reduce its impact to the environment.
Doe Run installed geothermal heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to improve energy efficiency at Brushy Creek Mine and Mill’s surface building – which houses offices and employee change rooms – as well as the SEMO central office in Viburnum. The geothermal systems rely on the Earth’s constant temperature and a closed-loop system that recirculates water through heat pumps to improve efficiency. Electric compressors and the pumps help control the temperature of air that heats or cools the buildings. Using 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems, these systems also reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
In the winter, the water flowing through these pipes absorbs heat from the Earth and circulates it through a heat pump, where it warms air that is blown through the HVAC system to heat the building. In the summer, the heat pump draws heat from the building into the water pipes. The cooler water absorbs the heat from the air, and cooled air is sent back into the building. Employees can control the temperature of the building by using thermostats.
“While we experience hot summers and cold winters above ground, the temperature a few feet below the earth’s surface remains relatively consistent, approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Eric Van De Mark, civil engineer and project manager at Doe Run. “The geothermal HVAC systems harness that constant temperature for more efficient temperature control. By tapping into this renewable energy source, we’re decreasing our overall energy use, environmental impact and spending.”
Doe Run invested $1 million in this project, and worked with Microgrid Energy of St. Louis, Lee Mechanical of Park Hills, Missouri, and Ridge Runner of Salem, Missouri, to install the geothermal HVAC systems.
Many of Doe Run’s other environmental investments in 2015 focused on water management. Learn more here.
Doe Run invested more than $63 million in total environmental spending, including remediation, in 2015.
Projects Managing Natural Resources
This year also marked the completion of a four-year, $23 million process to construct concentrate enclosure systems at all four of Doe Run’s mill facilities as part of the environmental commitments of the 2010 agreement. The enclosures store the lead concentrate that results from Doe Run’s milling process. The lead concentrates are eventually transported around the globe to be processed into lead metal and alloys.
Doe Run invested approximately $8.4 million to construct the final lead concentrate enclosure and baghouse at Fletcher Mill in 2015.
“Each of the facilities filter air within the enclosure and use a negative-pressure ventilation system to minimize the potential of emissions as a result of lead concentrate handling,” said Van De Mark. “The lead concentrate enclosures help us maintain the quality of our lead concentrates by protecting them from wind, rain and snow, and also reduce potential fugitive emissions. We have since seen improvements in our air monitoring.”
A Path Forward
Doe Run continues to manage other environmental projects as part of the 2010 consent decree, including implementation of environmental management systems at several of its mines and mills, and remediation of the Herculaneum smelter property. While Doe Run has completed a significant portion of its agreement, the company is committed to exploring new ways to continue reducing its impact and improving its operations.
Doe Run invested in several other projects from 2012-2014 that brought environmental improvements to schools in the communities in which it operates as part of the agreement.