Hecla Fined $318K for Death of Miner


Hecla Mining has been hit by a $318,200 fine for the death of one of its workers last year at its north Idaho Lucky Friday mine.

The body of Larry Marek was recovered in a weeklong rescue effort following a cave-in at the silver mine near Mullan on April 15, 2011. Marek died after a roof collapse more than a mile under the surface. It was the first fatality at the mine since 1986, but it would not be the last in 2011. The operation included drilling and blasting of rock face, and processing the rubble into silver, lead and zinc.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration called Hecla managers "negligent" for failing to install adequate ground support and not testing the stability of the rock where the cave-in occured.

In January, federal authorities ordered that the silver shaft be shut down, at least for a year. In addition to the April accident, another miner was killed at the site in November 2011, and in December 2011, yet another accident resulted in an evacuation. Additionally, two separate fires in July 2011 led to evacuations from the mine.

In February, Helcla announced record profits for 2011, with revenues topping $477 million and total silver production of more than 9.5 million ounces.