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Hecla To Pay Fine Over Problems At Idaho Mine

The Hecla Mining Company of Coeur d' Alene has agreed to pay a large fine and to fix runoff leakage from its  Lucky Friday silver mine in the Silver Valley of Idaho.

Hecla will pay a 600-thousand dollar fine as part of the settlement. The EPA and the U-S Department of Justice said the mining violations occurred between 2009 and last year around the Lucky Friday mine, spilling metal-laden water into the south fork of the Coeur d' Alene River.

Investigators found that mine tailings, dumped into a holding pond, leached out and discharged into a creek which feeds the river. Construction of another holding pond led to destruction of a downstream fish hatchery water intake gate. Hecla also allegedly failed to report the incidents to the EPA.

Ed Kowalski, director of EPA's Seattle enforcement office, said inspections documented nearly 500 reporting violations over the five=year period.

The south fork of the Coeur d' Alene River has been polluted with mining runoff for decades. Kowalski said the Lucky Friday mine is the largest single contributor of metals to the river above Mullan, Idaho.

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