An Underground Town
Doe Run outfits its modern lead mining operations with computer networks, air, power, water, telephones, lunchrooms, offices and maintenance shops. Elevator shafts transport mine crews, supplies and equipment underground. Heavy equipment needed underground is disassembled above ground before being reassembling underground for use. SEMO mines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with about 300 employees underground at any given time.
Twenty-one miles of roadways connect four of Doe Run’s mines, including Casteel, Buick, Brushy Creek and Fletcher. Doe Run also operates Sweetwater Mine and Mine No. 29, which are not connected to the other mines, but are located nearby.
How Lead Mining and Milling Works:
- Lead mining begins when crews drill and blast limestone rock in an underground area known as a mine face. Doe Run uses the room-and-pillar lead mining technique to safely mine each face. Crews excavate large “rooms” and leave massive pillars standing to support the mine ceiling. These “rooms” stand at least 14 feet high to 32 feet in diameter, which is similar in size to a high school gymnasium. After excavating the room’s ore, Doe Run safely removes those pillars that have high-grade ore before closing each face.
- Crews transport blasted ore containing approximately 4 percent lead, 1 percent zinc and 0.15 percent copper to the shaft area, using eco-friendly, low-emission biodiesel haul trucks. Ore is crushed once underground before being hoisted to the surface for additional crushing.
- Above ground, the ore is further processed at a mill where it is ground until it becomes the consistency of sugar. Next, a flotation process separates the lead, zinc and copper minerals from the rock and from each other. Doe Run sells the lead concentrates, as well as its zinc and copper concentrates, on the world market.
- Reclamation is the important final step to responsibly dispose of tailings, which remain after the milling process. These materials are stored on-site in ponds to protect groundwater. The solid portion of the tailings settles to fill the ponds over time. Dry tailings sites are then reclaimed using approved methods, which may include covering them with rock, or soil and vegetation.
Doe Run’s SEMO division also serves as one of the largest employers in Southeast Missouri, with more than 900 employees.
Safety in Lead Mining
Operating safely is a hallmark of Doe Run’s lead mining operations, and SEMO is often recognized for safety leadership. Doe Run relies on its highly decorated mine rescue teams, who train specifically to respond to emergency situations. Teams stay sharp by regularly competing in mine rescue competitions. Doe Run’s wins includethe national championship title at the 2014 and 2010 Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) Metal/Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Contests, along with other accolades at the regional and national level.
Doe Run and its predecessors have earned the National Mining Association’s (NMA) prestigious Sentinel of Safety award, the highest honor in the mining industry, a combined 25 times since 1971, most recently achieving this honor for the Sweetwater Mine and Mill in 2011. All new Doe Run employees complete 40 hours of in-depth training on MSHA guidelines and participate in follow-up training throughout their careers. Companywide, employees participate in more than 15,000 hours of safety training annually.
Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division
1849 Highway KK
Boss, MO 65440
P.O. Box 500
Viburnum, MO 65566
Phone: (573) 244-5261
Driving directions to Doe Run locations