Mining Gold In The Northwest Causes Conflict

Sep 20, 2012
Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

A recreational gold miner in Idaho now has the exclusive right to mine for gold on a stretch of the Salmon River. But the lease process approved by the Idaho Land Board this week raised some questions about the process he will use to get the gold. Aaron Kunz with EarthFix explains.

Idaho Land Board Approves Mining Lease

Sep 19, 2012
Photo Credit: Aaron Kunz

The Idaho Land Board signed off Tuesday on a lease that would allow a gold miner along the Salmon River to exclusively mine for gold.

Report Faults Mining Company For Fatal Accident

Jul 19, 2012
Mine Safety and Health Administration

A new report faults managers of north Idaho’s Lucky Friday mine for an accident last November that killed a 26-year-old miner. It was one of two fatalities at the mine last year.

Photo courtesy Hayley Marek

Later this month, the Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho will begin rehiring workers. It closed seven months ago for federally mandated safety improvements. Inspectors took a sharper look at the mine after a series of tragic accidents last year. Now, as the mine prepares to re-open, the family of one dead miner is speaking out for the first time. The family of Larry Marek told correspondent Jessica Robinson they believe the company still hasn’t taken responsibility for what happened.

The family of a miner who was killed last year in Idaho’s Silver Valley is speaking out for the first time. In interviews with public radio, the family of Larry Marek says the the mine’s owner, Hecla Mining, hasn’t taken responsibility for its role in the tragedy. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

The daughter of a north Idaho miner killed in a tunnel collapse last year says federal regulators are failing to hold the company responsible. She says new fines do not do justice to her father’s death. The federal government is proposing $360,000 in penalties related to an accident that killed Larry Marek. Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports.

Fines For Fatal Mining Accident Less Than Predicted

Jun 4, 2012
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.

Gold mining with small dredges is popular in the rural Northwest. Today, the 9th circuit court ruled that the Forest Service has to strengthen its regulation of this kind of mining in salmon streams. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Bristol Bay, in Southwestern Alaska, is the home of one of the world’s largest runs of Sockeye salmon. In fact, all five types of salmon spawn in the bay’s freshwater tributaries.

Bristol Bay could also become the home of a new mine to extract copper, gold and other minerals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a risk assessment study on how mining could impact the ecosystem there. The Agency will hold a public hearing in Seattle Thursday.

Ashley Ahearn reports that fishermen in the Northwest are watching the process closely.

Safety Improvements On Track At Idaho Mine Where Two Died

May 8, 2012
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.