Hecla’s Yukon unit given ‘substantial’ fine for environmental risks

Keno Hill surface facilities. Credit: Alexco Resource

Hecla Mining Company’s (NYSE:HL) Yukon-based subsidiary has been hit with a C$100,000 fine for overlooking certain environmental risks at its large silver mine situated 350 km north of Whitehorse, according reports by CBC News.

The unit, Alexco Keno Hill Mining, pled guilty to failing to store hazardous waste properly and meet certain water quality standards on Wednesday. Alexco operates the Keno Hill mine, which Hecla acquired in 2022 and is expected to produce 2.7-3.0 million oz. of silver this year.

Commenting on the court ruling, Yukon Territorial Court deputy judge Michael Block said the fine was “substantial”.

Such an amount is considered “unusual” by Crown lawyer Sarah Bailey, who said it’s normally the smaller placer mining operations in the territory that are taken to court over environmental issues.

The only other significant fine was given last September to Victoria Gold (TSX: VGCX) for violating some of the licensing conditions for its Eagle gold mine near Mayo. The total fine amount was C$95,000.

Hecla’s even larger fine stems from an investigation into potential infractions of Yukon’s quartz mining and water regulations initiated by the government last summer.

Inspection by natural resource officers eventually pointed to an improper storage by the company of chemicals like copper sulphate and sulphuric acid, as well as a failure in its water treatment plant, CBC reported.

These violations at Keno Hill were not a one-off for the US-based silver miner. In June 2023, Hecla was fined by the US Environmental Protection Agency for similar infractions at Greens Creek in Alaska, the largest silver mine in the country. It was slapped a $143,124 fine as a result.

Last week, the company announced its CEO Phillip Baker was being replaced by chairman Catherine Boggs as the largest silver miner in the United States searches for a permanent replacement.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *