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Idaho U.S. Attorney’s office gets biggest payment ever: $77M from Hecla settlement

The U.S. Attorney's office for Idaho posted its biggest collection ever today, when Hecla Mining Co. paid $77.5 million as part of a settlement involving the Bunker Hill Superfund site in North Idaho. The settlement was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice in June; in it, Hecla agreed to pay $263.4 million plus interest to the United States, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and the state of Idaho. The settlement is to pay for cleanup of mining contamination in the Coeur d'Alene Basin.

Payments already have been made to the tribe and the state; Hecla is scheduled to pay another $43.3 million to the federal government by August of 2014. “This historic recovery to resolve one of the largest cases ever filed under the Superfund statute compensates the United States for more than three decades of clean-up efforts," said U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, "and establishes a strong basis for future cooperation between Hecla Mining Company, the tribe, the state, and the federal government.”

2nd fire reported at Lucky Friday

Investigators are looking into the cause of a second fire in three weeks at the Lucky Friday Mine.

The underground silver mine near Mullan, Idaho, was evacuated at 7 p.m. Tuesday after a contractor’s employee reported that he smelled smoke.

Hecla Mining Co. deployed three mine rescue teams to monitor the fire and prevent its spread. They were able to contain the fire to a small area on the 4900 level, according to a statement from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The fire was extinguished at around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Underground workers were able to return to work on Wednesday evening, said Melanie Hennessey, Hecla’s vice president of investor relations. More.

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