Hecla Mining reported in early November 2012 that it expects to complete rehabilitation of the Silver Shaft at its Lucky Friday mine in the Coeur d’Alene district of northern Idaho by the end of the year, with production expected to resume in the first quarter of 2013. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration ordered the Silver Shaft closed in January 2012 for removal of built-up material in the shaft. The order was pursuant to an investigation that followed a December 14, 2011, rock burst in the mine.
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 being removed from the shaft had built up over a number of years. All other significant activities at the mine, including construction of the No. 4 Shaft and the bypass around the rock burst, were placed on hold. Concurrent with rehabilitation, the Silver Shaft is being upgraded for potential future capacity increases.
Hecla also has begun preparations to resume work on the No. 4 Shaft project in the first quarter of 2013. To date, $90 million has been invested on the estimated $200- million project, which is planned to access extensions to reserves and resources and additional exploration targets. The project is expected to be completed in early 2016. Hecla expects Lucky Friday to produce more than 2 million oz of silver during 2013 while it is ramping up to full production. The mine produced 3 million oz in 2011.