Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 7:00 pm
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.