Hecla Mining Co., a 127-year-old company with a history of mining throughout the world, returned to Nevada this year with the acquisition of four large assets with large land positions in the state.
The company plans to manage its new properties with a focus on profitability and cash flow, according to a Hecla fact sheet for investors.
Obtaining the Nevada properties also aligns with Hecla’s goal to own long-life assets where the company can invest in community, innovation and technology, said Luke Russell, Hecla vice president of external affairs.
Nevada assets acquired from Klondex in July 2018 include Fire Creek, Hollister, Midas and Aurora. The company previously co-operated (with Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corp., now Newmont) the Rosebud underground gold mine in Pershing County from 1997 to 2000.
“We’re excited to be in Nevada and in the community,” Russell said.
Fire Creek, a narrow-vein gold and silver mine in Lander County, is the most attractive property that garners most of the new owner’s immediate efforts. Mineral-quality specimens can be found in the Fire Creek mine, said Lucy Hill, Hecla’s director of environmental and community relations who previously worked for Klondex.
Because of its potential, Helca is focused on getting production up to permitted capacity and doing exploration at Fire Creek, Russell said.
Fire Creek produced 107,143 ounces of gold in 2017, according to results posted on Hecla’s website.
At the Hollister Mine in Elko County, Hecla has begun exploration drilling for gold and silver, and continues a partnership led by Klondex with the Western Shoshone for environmental stewardship.
Hollister produced 47,305 ounces of silver and 6,751 ounces of gold in 2017, according to Hecla.
The next vein to target is 800 feet lower than the current mine resource, Hecla reported.
Under Hecla, the mine portion of the Midas Property is on care and maintenance, and its workers were relocated to Fire Creek and Hollister.
The Midas mill continues to operate, processing materials from Hecla’s nearby properties and potentially providing toll milling.
Hecla plans to construct a new tailings impoundment at Midas, a big financial commitment, Russell said.
Midas produced 780,316 ounces of silver and 34,343 ounces of gold in 2017, according to Hecla.
At the 12.6-square-mile Aurora property in Mineral County in the Bodie Hills, Hecla plans to reprocess tailings and work on reclamation. Historic production totaled about 1.9 million ounces of high-grade gold starting in the 1800s. Exploration could occur in the future.
The company incorporated in Idaho in 1891, and over the years, became a silver, lead, zinc and gold producer. Hecla maintains corporate offices in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Vancouver, Canada, and has operating mines Alaska, Idaho, Quebec and Mexico.
At its underground gold mine in Quebec, Casa Berardi, Hecla uses on-demand ventilation. Ventilating only when someone is in the mine saves the company millions of dollars, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, Russell said.
For the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho, the company is experimenting with a semi-autonomous tunnel boring machine, or remote vein miner, being custom-built for mining operations. It was designed using virtual reality and is electric. Because the machine will be able to operate without putting a person at the face of a drift, the technology is expected to improve safety. The technology could have applications in Nevada, Russell said.
Hecla also holds a record of environmental stewardship at its Greens Creek property in Alaska, where mining has co-existed for 30 years with an environment known for a high concentration of brown bears and five species of Pacific salmon, Russell said.
Phillips Baker Jr. is Hecla’s president and CEO. He is also the chairman of the National Mining Association.
Hecla employs approximately 1,800 people around the world.