Doe Run lead smelter resumes full output after fire

NEW YORK Thu May 10, 2012 5:46pm EDT

NEW YORK May 10 (Reuters) - Doe Run Co restored its primary lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, this week to its full production capacity of 130,000 short tons a year and is on track to meet its production target for May, a company executive said on Thursday.

"During this week, we got back up to full production levels," Jose Hansen, vice president of sales and marketing told Reuters, explaining that getting a plant the size of Herculaneum back to its normal operating rate is a somewhat gradual process.

Some production was lost while the privately-held lead smelter repaired damage caused by a fire in March, he said,

"We produce about 130,000 short tons a year of lead metal and lead products. During April we produced a very small amount because of the fire. But we are planning to make up any differential in coming months," he said.

He added that Doe Run still plans to get to its originally stated production level of 130,000 short tons this year. St. Louis-based Doe Run's 2011 production of lead metal and alloys came to 129,905 short tons.

The fire damaged the facility's electric substation in late March, when Doe Run took emergency measures to stop lead output at Herculaneum.

The company said at the time that it expected repairs to take about six weeks. The fire prompted Doe Run to move a scheduled maintenance shutdown forward that had been planned for July, thus alleviating a production shortfall.

A company statement said repairs to the Herculaneum plant's electrical system had been completed according to plan.

"Everything has been repaired, the power is back and that has allowed us to restart production. Fortunately, at the beginning of this week we reached the full level of production," Hansen said.

"Doe Run coordinated closely with its customers to find solutions to fill orders according to their needs while the plant was undergoing reparations," he said

The Herculaneum plant is the only primary lead producer in the United States. (Reporting By Carole Vaporean; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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