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Business in brief: Hecla buys Alaska mine

Hecla Mining Co. bought the world’s fifth-largest silver mine Wednesday for $750 million.

Hecla announced in February that it was buying the Greens Creek Mine near Juneau, Alaska. Greens Creek will nearly double the company’s annual silver output, boosting company production to about 11 million ounces a year.

Rio Tinto, a London-based metals conglomerate, sold the mine as part of planned sell-off of $15 billion in company assets.

Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla already owned a 30 percent stake in the underground mine, which is located on an island about 15 miles from Juneau. In addition to silver, Greens Creek produces gold, zinc and lead. About 330 people work at the mine.

Hecla will pay $700 million in cash for the Greens Creek Mine and $50 million in stock. Scotia Capital provided $380 million in debt financing, with Hecla paying the rest from its cash reserves.

Metals prices have been so strong that Hecla anticipates paying off the debt in three years, said Phil Baker, chief executive officer.

– Becky Kramer


WaMu’s board re-elected

Washington Mutual Inc. shareholders re-elected its entire board, despite efforts by some groups to oust the directors responsible for managing the thrift’s exposure to risky subprime mortgages.

The resignation of Mary Pugh, chairwoman of WaMu’s finance committee, was announced at the shareholder meeting Tuesday. A shareholder group representing major labor unions’ pension funds had urged others to vote against her. Results of the vote, made public Wednesday, showed 50.04 percent voted in her favor.

Shareholder groups had also called for votes to be withheld for members of the human resources committee, which devised a way of calculating bonuses in 2008 that did not factor in much of the impact of the mortgage crisis. About 40 percent of shareholders voted against several directors who served on that committee, including James Stever, Stephen Frank, Charles Lillis and Margaret Osmer-McQuade.

During the meeting, Chief Executive Officer Kerry Killinger said the board committee would revisit the compensation formula for 2008 and make specific recommendations for incorporating credit costs.

About 89 percent of shareholders voted to re-elect Killinger, also WaMu’s chairman, to the board. However, a resolution urging WaMu to require a nonemployee to serve as chairman of the board passed with 51.5 percent of the votes.

– Associated Press

New York

AT&T donation to help students

AT&T Inc. will donate $100 million over four years to programs aimed at boosting high school graduation rates, chief executive Randall Stephenson was expected to announce today.

AT&T will devote the money to schools and nonprofit organizations and fund research and community “dropout prevention summits” run by America’s Promise Alliance, a coalition of nonprofits and corporations.

– Associated Press

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