February 22, 2012 in Idaho

Repairs to closed mine will cost $30 million

Lucky Friday in Idaho using downtime to make other upgrades to shaft
By The Spokesman-Review
 

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

Company officials 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 early January, citing safety concerns about the buildup of loose material on the shaft’s walls.

While the shaft is closed for that work, company officials will take advantage of the downtime to make other upgrades that could increase the shaft’s hoisting capacity, said Phil Baker, Hecla’s chief executive officer.

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, other capital projects have been underway at the Lucky Friday. Workers are accessing underground pumps from a secondary shaft while the main shaft is closed. Reaching the pumps is a priority because they keep the underground workings from flooding.

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 produced 9.5 million ounces of silver from its mining properties last year.

Silver prices averaging $35 per ounce in 2011 contributed to record revenues of $477.6 million.


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