Hecla’s Lucky Friday silver mine resumes production

Lucky Friday is Hecla’s third-largest silver producing mine. (Image courtesy of Hecla Mining.)

Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) has begun to resume activities at its Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho, US, after being halted in September last year to complete repair work on areas damaged by wildfires in August. 

The mine restarted production on January 9th and is expected to ramp up to full production in the current quarter, the company said.

Lucky Friday, Hecla’s third-largest silver producer, produced 3.1-million ounces of the precious metal in 2023, a 30% decrease from the previous year, owing to the temporary suspension. 

Despite challenges at Lucky Friday and the Keno Hill mine in Canada’s Yukon Territory, Hecla managed to beat its 2022 production, delivering 14.3-million ounces of the precious metal last year.

Yukon mine inspectors raised a number of concerns around the Keno Hill operation last year after they found sediment runoff from tailings facilities, poor storage of hazardous materials, hydrocarbon stains on the ground, and discharged water that was toxic to fish.

“Despite these challenges, silver production exceeded last year as Greens Creek delivered another strong year, Lucky Friday’s production through July with our patented UCB method produced more silver than the mine typically produced in a full year with the old mining method, and the roughly half year of production at Keno Hill shows its potential to be a meaningful producer,” CEO Phillips Baker said in the statement.

The Keno Hill  produced 1.5 million ounces of silver in 2023, with 608,301 ounces produced in the fourth quarter. The Bermingham deposits, which form the backbone of Hecla Yukon’s current mining operations, achieved their highest production in December, exceeding 9,500 tonnes mined. Ore inventory at the end of the year was approximately 3,000 tonnes at a silver grade of 27 ounces per tonne.

Hecla Mining ramps up Lucky Friday mine to full production amid strike
Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho. (Image courtesy of Hecla Mining.)

The Greens Creek mine in Alaska churned out 9.7 million ounces of silver and 60,896 ounces of gold in 2023. This operation was also subject to scrutiny and the US Environmental Protection Agency imposed a more than $143,000 fine on Hecla for violating hazardous waste management and disposal requirements.

The Casa Berardi mine, in Quebec, produced 90,363 ounces of the grey metal and 22,517 gold ounces last year. 

Hecla’s yearly gold production declined by 14%, due to wildfire-related closures and lower underground tonnage as the mine transitions to a surface operation by mid-2024.

Shares in the company, the largest silver producer in the US, were down 1.4% on Thursday morning in New York to $4.22 each, leaving the miner with a market value of $2.6 billion.

Hecla is targeting silver production of up to 20 million ounces a year by 2025.