Lucky Friday mine reopens in northern Idaho

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The Lucky Friday Mine in northern Idaho has reopened after three accidents that killed two miners and injured seven others prompted a yearlong closure.

Officials with Hecla Mining Company announced Tuesday that rehabilitation work on the Silver Shaft at the mine is complete, the company has been given clearance from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and mining is once again under way.

More than 100 miners were put out of work when the MSHA ordered the mine closed for safety improvements in January 2012. The order came after a string of accidents: In 2011, a cave-in killed a miner in April, another died that November attempting to dislodge rock, and a rock burst injured seven miners in December 2011.

“The 12 months of down time at Lucky Friday allowed work crews to improve many aspects of the mine’s operations,” Hecla President and CEO Phillips Baker said in a prepared statement.

Baker said the company has upgraded mining methods, hired additional safety experts and purchased $2.3 million in new equipment. All employees have also received additional safety training, according to the prepared statement.

Besides the Lucky Friday Mine in the Silver Valley area of northern Idaho, the company operates the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska and has exploration properties in four silver mining districts in the U.S. and Mexico.

The Lucky Friday Mine is expected to produce two million ounces of silver this year, company officials said.

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