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Hecla, CdA Mines show profits

The region’s two largest mining companies announced second-quarter earnings that were bolstered by higher prices for precious metals.

Hecla Mining Co. reported second-quarter income of $9.1 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with a loss of $6.4 million during the second quarter of 2005.

Higher prices for silver, gold, lead and zinc helped boost the company’s earnings, officials said. The results also included a one-time, pre-tax gain of $4.4 million from the sale of Hecla’s Noche Buena gold property in northern Mexico.

Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla produced 1.3 million ounces of silver at an average cash cost of $1.98 per ounce during the second quarter. In addition, the company produced more than 42,000 ounces of gold at costs of $340 per ounce. Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. posted record profits for the second quarter.

The Coeur d’Alene-based company reported earnings of $32.6 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $1.7 million during the second quarter of 2005. The sale of the Galena Mine in Silverton, Idaho, contributed a one-time, pre-tax gain of $11.2 million to the company’s second-quarter earnings. Extracting silver from the mine was costing as much as $10 per ounce, according to CEO Dennis Wheeler.

Selling the Galena Mine rid the company of its highest-cost property, allowing Coeur d’Alene Mines to lower its production costs, Wheeler said. Meanwhile, silver production rose at the company’s mines in Latin America and Australia.

Coeur d’Alene Mines also announced that the U.S. District Court for the state of Alaska dismissed a lawsuit challenging waste disposal at the company’s proposed Kensington gold mine north of Juneau. More than 300 workers are constructing the mine, which is slated to start gold production at the end of 2007.

Environmental groups said that they will appeal the ruling. The company’s permit allows the Kensington Mine to use a natural lake for waste rock disposal.