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This week's major news in North Idaho was the announced reopening of the Lucky Friday mine, in Mullan.
For most folks, the Lucky Friday is called a silver mine. In fact, it also produces good amounts of lead and zinc.
Hecla Mining had to shut down mining of those metals for more than a year, following investigations by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Based on the year's typical production of silver — described as roughly 3 million ounces — Hecla missed out on about $90 million in revenue for that metal. But that's just for silver.
When the loss includes no revenue for zinc and lead, the total loss for the company comes to about $135 million over the full 13 months of non-production, said company VP of Investor Relations Jim Sabala.
Photo by SR photographer Dan Pelle: Hecla CEO Phillips Baker Jr. discusses the reopening of the Lucky Friday mine.
“I would prefer to stay here,” said Mark Miller, of Kingston, Idaho, along with his wife, Heidi, and their baby daughter, Naomi, during a job fair at Wallace Junior/Senior High School on Thursday. Miller works in Lucky Friday Mine’s milling operation. Becky Kramer/SR story here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
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Just when was it that the United Snakes of America declared war on the Coeur d'Alene Mining District, and why? … Was it just last year, when the US EPA sweated a $200 million settlement out of Hecla Mining Co. for alleged “environmental damages” for having the temerity to mine silver, lead and zinc in the Silver Valley? (That amount, ironically, is about what Hecla intends to spend extending the life of the Lucky Friday by some 30 years.) Or was it just last week, when the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration shuttered the Lucky Friday mine for up to a year on an utterly vacuous claim that is main vertical access way, the Silver Shaft, had miraculously become unsafe - overnight? This is the same MSHA that inspects the shaft every three months, most recently a month ago. What changed in 30 days to render the Silver Shaft unserviceable? According to MSHA, 30 years' accumulation of crud leaking from sand lines that have built up along the mile-deep, 18-foot cylindrical shaft's concrete liner/David Bond, Silverminers.com. More here.
Question: Do you think the USA has declared war on the Silver Valley mining district? Or is simply being safety conscious after a series of accidents in 2012?
Hecla Mining Company’s stock price tumbled this morning after the Coeur d’Alene-based company announced Tuesday evening a year-long closure at its Lucky Friday Mine in North Idaho for removal of built-up material in the silver shaft. Hecla’s stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, lost a quarter of its value in morning trading today. It was trading around $4.40 a share at 8 a.m. Pacific, down $1.44 from the close Tuesday. That’s the lowest it has been since mid-2010. Federal mine inspectors, who are investigating accidents at the Mullan, Idaho, mine, closed down Lucky Friday’s main shaft last week as a result of hazards associated with loose rock. The vertical shaft is the underground silver mine’s main entrance and exit, and hauls both workers and materials/Spokesman-Review. More here.
Question: Do you own Hecla stock?
Three miners remained in North Idaho hospitals this morning after a rock burst at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan injured seven miners Wednesday night. It was the third accident at the mine this year. Two miners died in the other incidents. Seven miners Wednesday night were transported by air and ambulance to area hospitals, according to the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office. Six were taken to Shoshone Medical Center, where two were held overnight for observation, a nursing supervisor said. Injuries were mostly cuts and bruises. A seventh miner was taken to Kootenai Medical Center and was listed in fair condition there this morning/Spokesman-Review. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Izzit it just me … or does the Lucky Friday Mine seem like a dangerous place to work?
Hecla officials have voluntarily shut down the Lucky Friday Mine after the now fatal accident that took the life of miner Brandon Gray over the weekend.Last week's accident was the third time this year that a fire or a cave-in have forced the closure of the mine, including the tunnel collapse that killed Larry Marek on April 15.So far 14 people have died in non-coal US mining accidents spread out between Alaska and Florida this year, but only one — the Lucky Friday Mine — has suffered a pair of fatalities/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here. (KXLY photo)
Question: What do you think? Is the Lucky Friday Mine particularly unlucky this year? Or is there something else going on under ground over there?
The body of Lucky Friday miner Larry Marek was recovered this afternoon after he was killed in a mine collapse on April 15, Hecla Mining Co. announced today. The Coeur d’Alene company had had crews working 24 hours a day since that collapse trying to reach Marek in hopes he survived the cave-in and was trapped behind a massive rock pile. However, the company issued a news release at 7 p.m. saying that the 53-year-old’s body was recovered and that his family had been notified. “Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel at the tragic loss of our friend, colleague and 30-year veteran of the mining industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and friends,” the release said/Spokesman-Review. More here.
Don Capparelli speaks about Larry Marek at his home in Page on Monday. Capparelli, now retired, was Marek's supervisor while the two worked at the Sunshine Mine in the late 1990s. The effort to reach Marek, a 30-year mining veteran, had stretched into a third day after he was trapped in the collapse about 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Lucky Friday mine while his brother, another mine worker, escaped. A tiny camera lowered behind the rock collapse has shown no signs of life. Story here. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Kathy Plonka)
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Ron Krusemark drives a utility vehicle down drifts on the 4900 level at the Lucky Friday mine Wednesday, near Mullan. Krusemark is helping Hecla Mining oversee the contractor, Cementation, which is building the new shaft, which is about a mile from the main shaft to the surface, so small vehicles for moving people around are vital. Becky Kramer will provide the story in Sunday’s paper. See Jesse Tinsley’s slide show here. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)
Question: Have you ever been in a mine?
Josh Easley and Dave Martin work while standing on a suspended platform over the new shaft hole on the 4900 level in the Lucky Friday mine last week. They work for Cementation, the contractor that is digging the new shaft that will open up a new ore body in the mine. Becky Kramer will provide the story in Sunday’s paper. See Jesse Tinsley’s slide show here. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)
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