The U.S. is the world's third largest primary lead producer, with one-seventh of all production reserves. Over 80% of the lead ore mined domestically comes from Missouri. The majority of lead ore mined in the U.S. is smelted in conventional blast furnaces and refined using pyrometallurgical methods.
The U.S. is the world's largest recycler of lead scrap and is able to meet about 72% of its total refined lead production needs from scrap recycling. The secondary lead industry consists of 16 companies that operate 23 battery breakers-smelters with capacities of between 10,000 and 120,000 t/yr; five smaller operations with capacities between 6000 and 10,000 t/yr; and 15 smaller plants that produce mainly specialty alloys for solders, brass and bronze ingots, and miscellaneous uses.
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