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Lead Mining in Missouri

Southeast Missouri is home to some of the largest naturally occurring lead deposits in the world. In 1967, Missouri named galena, the natural mineral form of lead sulfide, as the state mineral in order to recognize the importance of lead mining in the region’s economic development.

  • Missouri lead mining began in 1720 near Mine LaMotte after French explorers discovered galena. Lead mining helped to develop the state of Missouri by bringing settlers to the area, influencing the transportation infrastructure (including railroads and roadways), and creating an economic base for the state.
  • Lead later was discovered northwest of Mine LaMotte in the Bonne Terre, Flat River and Desloge areas around 1864. Lead mining took place in this area, which is now dubbed The Old Lead Belt, until 1972.
  • Exploration teams discovered the Viburnum Trend, or The New Lead Belt, in the 1950s. Lead mining began in the Viburnum Trend in the 1960s, and continues today.

Download the 2014 The Doe Run Company Celebrates 150 Years of Lead Production brochure to learn more about lead mining in Missouri.

Thanks to these efforts, Southeast Missouri, specifically the Viburnum Trend, has become synonymous with high purity lead. In fact, Missouri lead concentrates are used by smelters around the world to supplement lower quality lead concentrates.

Products created from Doe Run’s Missouri lead mining operations eventually benefit society through medical and nuclear protective shielding, start-up power for vehicles, back-up power for hospitals and telecommunications, and alternative energy storage for hybrid vehicles, wind and solar power.

Jerry Pyatt, Doe Run president and CEO, called for the need to protect the nation’s domestic minerals supply in a testimony before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in July 2014. View Jerry Pyatt’s testimony beginning at 1:36:45.

Mining in Missouri

Mining plays a significant role in Missouri’s workforce and economy. Missouri’s lead mining district is world-class in both size and purity of lead. According to the National Mining Association: