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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Company defaults on lease for Bunker Hill Mine, future of restarting mine in doubt

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 15, 2018, 6:19 p.m.

Miners leave the Bunker Hill Mine in this historical photo. The underground mine produced lead, zinc and copper for nearly 100 years. (PHOTO ARCHIVE / SR)
Miners leave the Bunker Hill Mine in this historical photo. The underground mine produced lead, zinc and copper for nearly 100 years. (PHOTO ARCHIVE / SR)

The company that hoped to reopen the Bunker Hill Mine later this year has defaulted on its lease-purchase option payment.

“We hit a hiccup with funding,” said John Ryan, acting chief executive for Bunker Hill Mining Corp. “We still feel the property has a lot of merit. … We’re still interested, but technically we’re out.”

The Toronto-based company missed a $400,000 payment in late September, and also missed Sunday’s deadline for a makeup payment. Bruce Reid, the company’s former president and CEO, has resigned and Ryan was appointed acting chief executive.

Lower prices for zinc, lead and copper created “headwinds” for the company’s efforts to arrange financing, Ryan said. The U.S. tariff policy contributed to lower prices for base metals, he said.

Ryan is still in talks with Placer Mining Co., which owns the historic underground mine in Kellogg. But he said it’s unclear whether the parties will be able to negotiate a new deal.

In 1885, Noah Kellogg discovered the lead outcropping that became the Bunker Hill Mine. The mine and a smelter operated for nearly a century.

Under an agreement announced in March, Bunker Hill Mining agreed to pay $20 million to the federal government on Placer Mining’s behalf over seven years. The payments were supposed to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recover part of the $24 million the agency has spent on water treatment at the mine.

If the Bunker Hill Mine reopens, it would provide employment in Idaho’s Silver Valley while creating revenue to pay for cleanup costs, Ryan said.

When the Bunker Hill Mine has its own mill and is fully operational, it will employ about 300 people, company officials have said.

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