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Lucky Friday shaft repairs to start soon

Repairing and upgrading the Lucky Friday Mine’s main shaft will cost about $30 million, Hecla Mining Co. said today.

Company officials said they expect to start repairs within a few weeks, which will include removing cement deposits from the shaft’s walls, repairing steel in the shaft, installing a new power cable and other work. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration closed the shaft in January, citing safety concerns about the build-up of loose material on the shaft’s walls.

The shaft is the main entrance and exit to the underground silver mine in Mullan, Idaho. The Lucky Friday Mine has been closed since the shaft was shut down. The mine is expected to reopen in early 2013.

Since January, a number of other capital projects have also been underway at the Lucky Friday. Workers are driving a drift to access underground pumps from a secondary shaft while the main shaft is closed. Hecla expects to spend about $50 million on capital projects at the mine, including the $30 million budgeted for shaft repairs.

Hecla gave an update on the Lucky Friday Mine as part of its year-end earnings report. The company reported net income of $150.6 million for 2011, and revenues of $477.6 million.