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Fines For Fatal Mining Accident Less Than Predicted

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.

The Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho. Photo by Jessica Robinson
The Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho. Photo by Jessica Robinson

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.

Federal mine regulators have now assessed the penalties on four citations associated with Marek’s death. They include the accident itself, as well as similar mining practices elsewhere in the mine that inspectors say could have lead to other fatalities.

The $360,000 in fines is far less than what Hecla’s president had predicted.

A spokesman for Hecla Mining said the company has no comment, as it’s an ongoing legal matter. Another miner died and several others were wounded in separate accidents at the Lucky Friday last year.

On the Web:

MSHA investigation report on Marek's death:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.