2019 Letter from the CEO
17 Aug 2020
Welcome to our Sustainability Report. We are glad you are here. Each year, our sustainability team pulls environmental, social and economic data from across our organization to provide a snapshot of our efforts and accomplishments.
Our report is guided by the widely recognized practices of the Global Reporting Initiative. Reporting is important to The Doe Run Company (Doe Run) to help us meet our commitments to minimize our environmental impact, provide tangible benefits to employees and society, and generate economic contributions to our shareholders, communities and state. Reporting also provides us with an opportunity to identify where improvements can be made.
As we prepare this report, our local, national and global communities are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We are concerned for our employees, families, neighbors and society at large. We have taken, and will continue to take, the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our state and county health departments, and local jurisdictions. We work in an industry where employee hygiene and personal protective equipment are a part of daily life, so we were better equipped to address the measures necessary to protect one another. We are also supporting those on the front lines of health care by providing protective gear where we are able.
Metal mining and recycling are considered essential industries because of their important role in supporting the manufacturing of critical products. This has enabled us to continue to operate during the pandemic. Even so, we are not immune to the economic impact of the virus, and are working during a period of significantly low metal prices. In June 2020, the extended period of low lead prices and decreased demand for our products related to COVID-19 economic impacts meant we had to reduce our workforce. We did so by offering voluntary early retirement incentives, postponing the filling of many open positions and, as a last resort, reducing our workforce by 33. These impacts will be reflected in the workforce summary in next year’s report. Decisions like these are never easy, yet are made to help sustain our business for the long term. We believe these measures will be sufficient for the foreseeable future.
Contributing to Our Communities
When we ask community members what matters to them, most tell us that the availability of good-paying jobs is of primary importance. As one of the largest employers in the area, we are working to provide good jobs in Southeast Missouri. In total, Doe Run provides $112.3 million in payroll to over 1,100 Missouri employees, and supports a total of 3,480 direct, indirect and induced jobs. Doe Run also strives to buy locally. We prioritize working with local vendors, and spent over $169 million with 665 Missouri vendors, representing 45% of our total spending last year. Our economic contribution to Missouri – at about $1.1 billion – is approximately half of the total economic contribution of the entire lead battery industry in Missouri.
Workforce Safety and Training
We value our workforce and invest in their development so they can continue to grow with us. That includes opportunities to further their education with tuition reimbursement, leadership development and other job training programs.
We also prioritize the safety of our employees. Many of our operations reached major milestones in safety this year. The Sweetwater Mill crew achieved 23 years and the Sweetwater Surface group achieved 16 years without a lost-time accident. Brushy Creek Mill achieved 13 years and our subsidiary Fabricated Products Inc. (FPI) recently reached 20 years without a lost-time accident. This is a direct result of the focus we put on safety and safety preparedness. One way we prepare ourselves is through the efforts of Doe Run’s mine rescue teams. These teams train eight hours per month to be ready for the unexpected. We’re proud that each team took home top honors at regional competitions.
Mitigating Environmental Impacts
We continue to work on reducing the impact of our operations on our shared environment. Our water treatment plants are significantly reducing the level of contaminants reaching Missouri streams. As a result of efforts over the last few years, many of the streams receiving water from Doe Run operations, including the West Fork of the Black River, are now meeting applicable sediment and water quality standards.
Separately, we reached an agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to resolve certain outstanding issues at our Resource Recycling facility. Over the past several years, the company has made significant investments to improve how we manage emissions and contain lead dust in our buildings. Unfortunately, some of our efforts were less successful than expected. Despite that, our air monitoring data shows that we have been below the level prescribed by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) requirement for lead emissions since September 2016. Thus, beyond our property line, the air meets the national standard for all criteria pollutants. Many of the issues identified in our agreement have already been addressed, and we are on schedule to address remaining items. We are confident that the investments being made will allow us to meet our obligations for many years to come.
Maximizing Our Resources
A recurring theme for all extractive industries is how to get more from our natural resources as efficiently as possible. We are presently in the process of installing VisioFrothTM technology to our zinc circuit flotation cells. This technology utilizes remote camera monitoring and digital analytics to evaluate bubble size, froth texture and color in the concentrator cells in order to enhance mineral recovery. The system communicates directly with mill control systems to enable faster response to conditions and improve mineral recovery.
Our previous report shared progress on the installation of a new ventilation shaft for our Fletcher Mine. The Big Bear vent shaft began operation in September 2019. This ventilation shaft is allowing for more rapid development to a significant mineral resource that supports the future of our Southeast Missouri mining operations.
As stated earlier, the global pandemic, coupled with a period of low lead prices, is challenging for our industry. Despite this, long-term global trends in renewable energy storage, increased demand for back-up power in critical systems, and global population trends are all driving growth in the battery energy storage industry. In fact, last fall during the Climate Action Summit, 77 countries, 10 regions and over 100 cities committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order to be successful, our world will need to increase its reliance on batteries to store energy from wind and solar farms, and to power electric vehicles.
The current market for all energy storage batteries is expected to more than double by 2030. Most of that growth will come from hybridized lithium vehicles – nearly all of which use lead batteries for critical systems. Advanced lead batteries are poised to capture a portion of this market growth in several key areas, including start-stop electric vehicles for transportation purposes, and material handling. Today, start-stop technology using lead batteries is eliminating 4.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually in the U.S. In Europe, this technology has been adopted at an even higher rate.
To meet new performance demands for batteries, today’s advanced lead batteries have an increased life span of 30% to 35% compared with those of 20 years ago; higher energy and power density in bipolar batteries has been achieved, and many are significantly lighter in weight. Lighter-weight batteries can conserve 20 to 30 gallons of gasoline per year for every driver. If each of the 275 million vehicles in the U.S. used start-stop technology, the U.S. could potentially save 5.5 billion to 8.25 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
In order to achieve carbon reduction goals, industrial battery growth for stationary applications must also grow exponentially. These batteries already provide back-up power for our most critical systems – telecommunications, big data and financial systems. Beyond providing back-up power, they have the potential to provide supplemental power during peak times of the day, and recharge during nonpeak periods. They also can harness and store renewable energy from wind and solar, releasing it when it is needed.
For these reasons and many more, we are confident that the hard-working, recyclable, safe and sustainable lead battery will play a major role in solving the energy challenges of the future. Doe Run is proud to be a critical part of this industry and a critical part of our Missouri economy and communities. We invite you to learn more about our company through our sustainability stories and data tables, and we welcome your feedback here.
Jerry L. Pyatt
President and CEO