mining

Idaho's Rare Earth Minerals On The Radar

May 2, 2012

China’s stranglehold on the world’s rare earth mineral supply has re-ignited interest in Idaho. The state’s rare earth minerals run through environmentally sensitive lands. Bonnie Stewart has the story.

May 2 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history. In 1972, a fire broke out underground at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho; 91 men died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The disaster had a devastating effect on Kellogg and the nearby communities in Idaho’s Silver Valley. People who were there still vividly remember the events of that day. Producer Phyllis Silver talks with four people about their memories and how, in a couple of cases, it shaped the rest of their lives.

Two-Headed Trout Spur Scrutiny Of Mine Pollution

Apr 19, 2012
Photos courtesy J.R. Simplot / Idaho DEQ

Here’s an image you usually don’t see without the help of Photoshop: two-headed fish. Pictures of deformed baby trout with two heads show up in a study of creeks in a remote part of southeast Idaho. The study examined the effects of a contaminant called selenium. It comes from a nearby mine owned by the agribusiness giant, J.R. Simplot. Critics say the two-headed trout have implications beyond a couple of Idaho creeks. Jessica Robinson reports.

Photo Credit: Hecla Mining Company / Northwest News Network

Laid-off silver miners in north Idaho aren’t staying out-of-work for long. Around 250 miners and contractors lost their jobs at the end of last year when the Lucky Friday Mine was shut down for safety improvements. But since then, the Silver Valley’s jobless rate has actually dropped two percentage points.

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.

In NW Mining, Most Deaths Happen Above Ground

Feb 28, 2012
Photo credit: MSHA / Photo courtesy MSHA

Federal mine investigators say a Northwest miner died by electrocution because the company that employed him failed to have proper safety procedures in place. The tragedy happened at a gravel pit last September near Pullman, Wash. Most Northwest mine accidents happen above ground.

Investors Sue Idaho Mining Company On Heels Of Accidents

Feb 2, 2012
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.”

Miners’ Prospects Reverse Of Economic Downturn

Jan 25, 2012
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.

Silver Valley Slams Feds For Mine Shut Down

Jan 24, 2012
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.

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