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Sterling Mining hit with $50,000 fine

Tue., Sept. 29, 2009, 3:48 p.m.

Sterling Mining Co. has been fined $50,000 for violations of its federal pollution discharge permit at the Sunshine Mine and Mill complex in Idaho’s Silver Valley.

Between April 2007 and September 2008, the company violated its permit 82 times, surpassing discharge limits for manganese, iron and total suspended solids, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Sterling also discharged mine tailing sands into Big Creek, agency officials said.

The Sunshine Mine is currently closed and the company has filed for bankruptcy.

“After a lot of hard work, the Silver Valley’s creeks and rivers are on the rebound,” said Edward Kowalski, director of EPA’s office of compliance and enforcement in Seattle. “It’s up to mine owners and operators to ensure that they comply with their permits.”

Sterling agreed to pay the fine, but neither admitted or denied guilt. The payment is due in mid-October, subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

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