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Workers block Hecla mine in Mexico

Union members blocked the entrance to a Mexican mine owned by Hecla Mining Co. this week, shutting down production at the non-union silver operation.

Hecla is working with the governor of the Mexican state of Durango to resolve the situation peacefully, said Vicki Veltkamp, company spokeswoman. The blockade began on Monday. Company officials have since regained access to the mine’s administrative offices.

“We certainly don’t want to cause harm to anyone,” said Veltkamp, who indicated that Hecla is prepared to wait out the situation.

The union officials illegally blocking access to the mine have been brought in from other Mexican states. They’re not Hecla employees, according to Veltkamp.

Workers at the nearby Velardena mill, which processes ore from the San Sebastian Mine, have been on strike since October. However, San Sebastian miners have rejected past efforts to unionize, Veltkamp said. The mine is expected to close by midyear, when its two operating veins are exhausted.

“Frankly, this is part of a larger national effort by this union to increase their membership,” Veltkamp said. “We’re proud of the relationship we have with employees in foreign countries. To have a union come in and act like we’re not (a good employer), it’s just not true.”

Mexico’s National Mining and Metallurgical Union has also targeted other mines in the country, Veltkamp said.

CdA Mines to buy Australian silver mine

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. will buy an Australian silver mine for $38.5 million, company officials announced Thursday.

The Endeavor Mine lies 720 kilometers northwest of Sydney in New South Wales. The mine, owned by CBH Resources Ltd., has been in production since 1983.

In addition to lead and zinc, the mine is expected to produce about 1.3 million ounces of silver annually.

Coeur d’Alene Mines will pay CBH Resources $15.4 million at closing, with the remaining cash payment due when the company determines that a paste backfill plant installed at the mine is operating successfully. CBH Resources will also receive royalties from future silver production.

The transaction should be completed by the third quarter of this year, Coeur d’Alene Mines officials said.