* COO Pyatt to take over as CEO on August 1
* Neil sees lead demand stronger over long term
* Doe Run still studying costs of new, cleaner hydrometallurgical process (Releads, adds background, CEO quotes from interview)
By Carole Vaporean
NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - Doe Run Company President and Chief Executive Bruce Neil will retire as of July 31 and will be replaced by Jerry Pyatt, vice president and chief operating officer, the privately held U.S. lead producer said on Friday.
Pyatt will take over as president and CEO on August 1, the company said in a statement.
Neil told Reuters in an interview that he sees long-term demand for lead remaining strong as the infrastructure of developing countries keeps growing.
“I think our business is pretty good; the metal demand (for lead) is strong and we expect it to get stronger over the long term,” said Neil. He cited the its use in lead-acid batteries for cars, for uninterrupted power in back-up communications systems, and in battery-powered energy storage systems, as with solar power units.
“In the developing world, particularly Asia, India, Indonesia, you’re going to see more infrastructure development, and all metals are used at a higher rate in circumstances like that, including lead,” the executive added.
Doe Run produces about 130,000 short tons of lead metal and lead products per year at its primary lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri.
Neil said the facility has been running normally since it resumed output in early May after a fire in March.
The St. Louis-based company has also been working on commercializing a new technology that nearly eliminates air lead emissions and sulfur dioxide emissions and uses less energy.
Appointed COO in 2001, Pyatt has been actively involved in the research and development of the proprietary lead processing technology, which is expected to replace traditional, high-temperature lead smelting.
“That’s something we’ve been working on for quite a few years, but more diligently for the last five years. We think it’s going to be the technology of the future and will take the place of lead smelting,” Neil told Reuters.
He said Doe Run still has not decided whether to adopt the new technology and continues to study its costs and benefits.
“In addition to the new hydrometallurgical process,” Pyatt said in the statement, “we have exploration, research and technology projects underway that will keep Doe Run as a leading provider of minerals, metals and specialty services well into the future.”
As the largest integrated lead producer in the Western Hemisphere, Doe Run’s operations include six mines, four mills, a primary lead smelter, a secondary smelter and two lead fabrication sites. It recycles nearly 14 million lead-acid batteries annually.
Aaron Miller, vice president of environmental, health and safety, will step into the role of vice president and chief operating officer on August 1.
Neil said he will fully retire to spend more time with his family and that Doe Run has been preparing for his retirement for quite awhile. (Reporting By Carole Vaporean; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang)