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Bypass planned at Lucky Friday Mine

Hecla Mining Co. today announced that it is going to build a bypass at Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, to take workers away from an area where a rock burst last week injured seven miners.

The company said it will build a 750-foot bypass through an area previously mined to access ore at the 5,900-foot depth where the rock burst occurred.

Three of the seven injured miners were held at local hospitals right after the rock burst on Dec. 14, but all were later released.

Hecla closed the mine right after the accident, an action that was followed by an order from federal officials to close the mine.

The bypass will create a new haulage way for moving silver ore out of the mine.

Even though the bypass will take two months to complete, company officials said they still expect to meet a 2012 production goal of 9.5 million ounces of silver, up from 9 million ounces this year.

Most workers should stay on jobs at the mine during the bypass work, the company said.

The latest accident comes after two mining deaths in two separate incidents this year.

Miner Brandon Lloyd Gray, 26, was buried in rubble while trying to dislodge jammed rock on Nov. 17. He died two days later.

Mine safety officials and Gray’s employer, Cementation U.S.A., a company hired by Hecla to deepen the mine, are investigating that accident.

On April 15, Lucky Friday miner Larry “Pete” Marek was crushed when his work area collapsed.

Federal regulators with the Mine Safety and Health Administration found company safety failures that led to Marek’s death. They issued four citations and $1 million in penalties in the April collapse.

Prior to this year, the mine had gone 25 years without a fatality.

Mike Prager
Mike Prager joined the Spokane Chronicle in 1982, a year before it merged with The Spokesman-Review. He currently covers transportation, weather, neighborhoods, general news and historic preservation.

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