Mines

Lucky Friday Mine
6:13 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Fines For Fatal Mining Accident Less Than Predicted

The Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho.
Photo credit: Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

The federal government is fining a north Idaho mining company $360,000 for unsafe practices that killed a miner last year. That’s about a third of the penalties that were expected.

Last year federal inspectors said the Hecla Mining Company engaged in “aggravated conduct” when it allowed miners to extract silver ore from a mass of unstable rock. It happened about a mile underground at the Lucky Friday Mine near Mullan, Idaho. The practices led to a tunnel collapse that killed 53 year old Larry Marek, according to a investigation.

Read more
Mine Safety Improvements
4:04 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Safety Improvements On Track At Idaho Mine Where Two Died

Crews installed work decks as part of a year-long project to improve safety the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho.
Photo courtesy of Hecla Mining

Work crews are ahead of schedule on safety improvements at the north Idaho mine where two men died last year. That’s the update today from the Hecla Mining Company, which owns the troubled Lucky Friday Mine. The federally mandated improvements have taken a bite into Hecla’s profits.

Federal inspectors ordered Hecla to make a whole stack of safety improvements at its north Idaho silver mine. The biggest task is a top to bottom scrubbing of the mine’s main shaft. Inspectors found loose cement on the wall of this 6,000 ft conduit that takes ore and people in and out of the mine.

Read more
Mine Procedure Changes
5:13 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Public Radio Report Prompts Mine Agency To Change Procedures

A statue of a miner stands outside Hecla Mining's headquarters in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The company owns the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho.
Photo credit: Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

The federal agency that oversees the nation’s mines says it’s changing how it handles key documents designed to improve mine safety. The move was prompted in part by a public radio investigation on a fatal mine accident in north Idaho.

Read more
Mine suit
6:20 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Investors Sue Idaho Mining Company On Heels Of Accidents

The Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho is closed while workers make federally mandated repairs.
Photo Credit: Jessica Robinson

The company that owns the troubled Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho is now the subject of a new round of investigations. Only these don't come from mine safety inspectors. They're from the company's own investors. One group is even suing for what it calls “fraudulent conduct.”

Read more
Northwest mining
6:15 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Miners’ Prospects Reverse Of Economic Downturn

The Lucky Friday Mine in North Idaho announced it will shut down for a year to comply with Federal safety orders. Despite the dangers, recent high school graduates apply for high paying mining jobs.
Wikimedia user: Plazak Wikimedia Commons

SILVER VALLEY, Idaho - They say the days when you could go from high school to a high-paying, blue collar job are long gone. But there are places in the Northwest where those days still exist -- that is, if you’re willing to work a mile underground.

For gold and silver miners, it looks like boom times right now. Rising salaries, more job opportunities. Even a recent layoff in north Idaho doesn't look like other layoffs. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has this story on a job that's seeing the reverse side of the economic downturn.

Read more
Idaho Mine Safety
6:08 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Silver Valley Slams Feds For Mine Shut Down

Local attorney James McMillan, standing on right, speaks at a town hall meeting attended by nearly 100 people that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter held Monday in Wallace.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

WALLACE, Idaho - Residents of Idaho's Silver Valley are outraged over a federal order that will put 250 local miners out of work for a year. They expressed their frustration to Idaho Governor Butch Otter Monday at a town hall meeting in Wallace. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

The Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho is one of the deepest and most productive silver mines in the country. And in 2011, it had a string of accidents -– including two fatalities.

Read more