The Bureau of Mines has investigated the domestic primary and secondary lead smelting and refining industries to determine the economic impacts of existing and proposed environmental, health, and safety regulations. The impacts are assessed in terms of capital and operating costs for existing and alternative smelting-refining technologies. Industry response to regulatory implementation is estimated and quantified in terms of import value from lost lead production. For the primary lead industry, regulatory compliance may add up to 1.15 Cents/lb refined lead to operating cost for rehabilitated plants. Alternative smelting-refining methods could reduce net operating costs by as much as 4.36 Cents/lb refined lead. Capital expenditures would range from $750 to $1,000 per annual mt of smelter capacity. Secondary lead smelter operating costs would increase about 3.8 Cents/lb refined lead to comply with existing regulations. Capital expenditures would average about $124 per annual mt of smelter capacity. Implementation and enforcement of proposed regulations would result in closure of the primary lead industry and additional expenditures for compliance by the secondary lead industry. Enforcement of the most extreme proposed regulations would force the secondary lead industry to close.
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