Lucky Friday Mine

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Chris Cora stands on what used to be a mountaintop in the Umpqua Basin of southern Oregon. Now, it’s essentially a landfill. “Filled with waste rock and tailings," Cora says. "There’s actually zinc ore in here. Well, it’s concentrated zinc, which is really bad for the environment.”

Hayley Marek

Hecla Mining Co. says a miner who died in a tunnel collapse at the Lucky Friday Mine in northern Idaho is partly responsible for his own death due to his own negligent and careless misconduct.

The company in court documents filed last week says 53-year-old Larry "Pete" Marek was not in his assigned work area when the accident occurred.

The Spokesman Review reports the company filed the documents in response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Marek's family in April. The family says the company put profits ahead of safety.

Photo by Hecla Mining

Four miners who were injured and trapped by a rock burst at a northern Idaho mine two years ago are suing Hecla Mining Co., alleging mine mangers sent them into unsafe working conditions while assuring them the area was safe.

The Spokesman-Review reports Ronnel E. Barrett, Gregg Hammerberg, Eric J. Tester and Matthew Williams are seeking more than $1 million for injuries, medical treatment and lost wages.

Hayley Marek

The family of a silver miner killed in north Idaho has filed a lawsuit against the Hecla Mining Company. The suit claims the mine managers’ attempt to extract more silver caused the cave-in that killed Larry Marek  exactly two years ago Monday.

The owner of the troubled Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho hopes new safety upgrades will prevent future accidents. Hecla Mining announced Tuesday that it’s reopened the silver mine in Mullan, Idaho, after a year-long closure.

Hecla President Phil Baker made the announcement at a press conference in Spokane.

“It's nice to be able to give you guys a good news story.”

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Two of the most productive silver mines in the Northwest will remain under separate ownership after several weeks of corporate wrangling.

Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla Mining had attempted to take over U.S. Silver through all-cash buyout offer to shareholders. But U.S. Silver of Toronto rebuffed the plan and is poised to merge with another Canadian mining company.

The maneuvering comes as a metal once known for its use in jewelry is in high demand as an industrial ingredient of electronics.

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.

On Nov. 17, a miner named Brandon Gray was trying to unclog a bin full of rock debris. The rock suddenly began to flow, and Gray was enveloped, much like a swimmer caught in a whirlpool. He later died at the hospital.

Hayley Marek

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.

Larry Marek’s mining partner Mike Marek says he thinks about his brother every time he goes underground. Mike witnessed the cave-in that killed Larry and says it was clear that the tunnel was too wide to be stable.

Mike Marek: “To me that was a scary looking place. I didn’t even like going in there.”

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 says they believe the company still hasn’t taken responsibility for what happened.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

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 fifty-three-year-old Larry Marek.

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.

Hecla: Safety Improvements On Track At Mine Where 2 Died

May 8, 2012
Hecla Mining

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - 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.

Hecla Mining

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 unemployment rate has actually dropped two percentage points.