There have been some interesting thins happening in the lead market. The last U.S. lead smelter, located in Herculaneum, MO, was forced to close December 31, 2013. The Doe Run plant has been scheduled for closure for several years. The EPA issued new regulations several years ago reducing the lead released into the environment. The workers at the Doe Run operation have experienced high lead levels in their blood and tissues, causing brain damage after years of exposure.
The U.S. military has been planning to replace lead with copper bullets since 2010. There are others in the market using recycled lead to supply the U.S. market. However, several states have banned lead in small arms munitions. For this reason and the heavy cost associated with bringing the Doe Run plant into compliance with the new environmental requirements caused the plant to make an economic decision to shut their doors. Munitions account for only 3% of lead usage. Most of the lead goes to batteries. About 145 jobs were lost.
What really hasn’t been discussed in the news reports is the U.N. Small Arms Treaty the U.S. signed several months ago. Article 3 of that treaty outlaws the buying, selling, trading, or transferring by civilians of all munitions fired, launched or delivered by conventional arms. National Governments of the participation countries have a monopoly control of all munitions in that country. The previous Administration felt the proposed treaty violated our Second Amendment, and the U.S. would not sign. Obama had no such problem signing this treaty. Hillary Clinton was responsible for much of the language in the treaty. The two countries we will be importing lead from are Peru and Australia, both of whom have joined the U.N. treaty.
The U.S. Senate has not voted to ratify this treaty. Harry Reid has held up a vote on the treaty because he doesn’t have the necessary votes for passage. Until the Senate takes action on the treaty, the United States will be a participant. The treaty become effective as soon as enough signatory nations ratify it. From that point on, it can be amended with a majority vote. At that time, they could vote to ban guns by civilians and we would be required to comply.
The bottom line is this: As long as we can buy munitions from domestic sources, we are O.K. As soon as we are forced to buy imported ammo, we might be in trouble.