December 15, 2011 in City, Idaho

Seven injured in Lucky Friday Mine collapse

Hecla officials blame seismic activity
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Several trapped miners were saved from the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, on Wednesday in the third rescue effort launched there this year.

Seven miners were transported by air and ambulance to area hospitals, according to the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office. Their identities and the extent of their injuries were unknown Wednesday night.

Capt. Holly Lindsey said a call came into dispatch at 7:51 p.m. to report buried miners. Law enforcement, medical emergency personnel and an underground mine rescue team were dispatched to the deep underground silver, lead and zinc mine, owned by Hecla Mining Co.

The miners were trapped 5,900 feet underground after a rock burst, said Hecla spokeswoman Melanie Hennessey. She said no rock blasting had taken place for the past 24 hours, so the incident was due to seismic activity, not mining operations.

“All employees are out of the mine and have been accounted for,” Hennessey said. “Those that were injured are being treated and the mine is currently shut down.”

The Mine Safety and Health Administration and Hecla are investigating.

The latest incident comes just weeks after the death of miner Brandon Lloyd Gray, 26, who was killed after being buried in rubble while trying to dislodge a jammed rock bin. He died two days after the Nov. 17 incident. Mine safety officials and Gray’s employer, Cementation U.S.A., the contract company hired by Hecla to deepen the mine, are investigating that incident.

Just two weeks after Gray’s death, federal regulators with the Mine Safety and Health Administration slammed Hecla for safety failures that led to the death of Lucky Friday miner Larry “Pete” Marek, who was crushed after his work area collapsed in April. The mine received four citations and faces nearly $1 million in penalties. The report cited Lucky Friday management for unsafe ground conditions and neglecting to test the stability of the area where the collapse that killed Marek occurred.

The mine is undergoing a $200 million project that will deepen the mine nearly 9,000 feet, providing access to deeper ore. Hecla officials expect the project to be completed by 2014.

Hecla was established in 1891 in North Idaho’s Silver Valley, according to the company’s website.

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