Hecla Mining Co. reported the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has ordered the Silver Shaft at the Lucky Friday mine in Mullan, Idaho, closed for removal of built-up material in the shaft. This order is pursuant to the investigation following the December 14, 2011, rock burst. Compliance with the order is expected to take until the end of 2012. Hecla’s 2012 silver production is now estimated to be approximately 7 million oz.
“While we are disappointed with this order and are considering what action we might take, work has already begun to resume production as quickly as possible,” said Phil Baker, president and CEO, Hecla. “The Lucky Friday mine is a world-class mine that we see producing silver for decades to come. Hecla and the Lucky Friday mine have faced challenges in the past and we will once again overcome them.”
The Silver Shaft is a 1-mile deep shaft from surface and the primary access to the Lucky Friday mine. The sand and concrete material to be removed from the shaft has built up over a number of years and is expected to be removed primarily by power washing. All other significant activities at the mine including construction of the No. 4 Shaft and bypass around the rock burst are on hold. Care and maintenance of the underground will be focused on the 4900 level where the No. 4 Shaft infrastructure is located. Production is expected to resume in early 2013.