Hecla Mining

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Posted by r2d2 03/17/2009 @ 04:17

Tags : hecla mining, silver, mining, business

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Mad Money Spotlight: Mining Sector - TheStreet.com
Idaho's Hecla Mining, meanwhile, is known mostly as a silver extractor, though it has its hands in a range of metals, including copper, zinc, lead and gold, with big mines in Idaho, Alaska and Mexico. First-quarter earnings at the company missed...
Option Activity Alert: Bulls Gold-digging with Hecla Mining Call ... - Schaeffers Research
by Joseph Hargett (jhargett@sir-inc.com) 5/15/2009 11:40 AM Call options remain the investment vehicle of choice for speculative Hecla Mining Co. (HL: sentiment, chart, options) traders. In fact, calls bought to open on the International Securities...
Mexico Hecla Mining Q1 Profit Declines; Revenues Up - Update - RTT News
(RTTNews) - Tuesday, silver and gold miner Hecla Mining Co. (HL: News ), reported a decline in its profit for the first quarter from the comparable quarter a year ago. Revenues for the quarter, however, increased from the same quarter last year due to...
Stocks Advancing Amid Heavy Short Interest - James River Coal Co ... - Schaeffers Research
... James River Coal Co (JRCC), Hecla Mining Co (HL), MercadoLibre Inc (MELI), Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. (BBW), United Natural Foods (UNFI), Synaptics Incorporated (SYNA), Shanda Interactive Entertainment (SNDA), Digital Realty Trust, Inc. (DLR),...
Hecla Mining reports first quarter results - Idaho Business Review
by IBR Staff Idaho-based Hecla Mining may be looking to buy mining assets that could benefit from the company's expertise, according to a first quarter report filed April 27. The company owns and operates the Lucky Friday mine in Idaho, and last year...
'Mad Money Lightning Round': Go With ConEd - TheStreet.com
Teck Cominco (TCK Quote): "I want you to take all the money out you put in. Lock in the profits and you can't lose." Hecla Mining (HL Quote): "One of my least favorite mining companies. The pecking order is the GLD ETF, then Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM...
Gold Price Toes The Currency Line - Gold Investing News
Of the top five performing gold equities on May 14, Randgold Resources Ltd (NASDAQ:GOLD) was at US$60.47, registering a 5.77 per cent upward revision, Hecla Mining Co (NYSE:HL) was at US$3.11, reporting plus 4.36 per cent change, Aurizon Mines Ltd (ARZ...
Venezuelan gold miner CVG-Minerven owes its suppliers despite high ... - VHeadline.com
The area had been under the management of Minera Hecla Venezolana, a subsidiary of Hecla Mining. The miner's output will also rise thanks to improved operations at the Colombia and Union mines. All of Minerven's mines are located in the Guayana region...
Silver Wheaton Locks In on Silver - Motley Fool
As silver finally found support near $9 per ounce late last year, the silver miners carved a convincing reversal that saw battered names like Coeur d'Alene Mines and Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) reap huge gains and propelled my silverminer CAPS profile deep...
Fears Swine Flu Will Hurt Economic Recovery - World Market Media
Shares of Hecla Mining (HL) rose ahead of its earnings release tomorrow. Although first quarter earnings for Whirlpool (WHR) tumbled, the results topped estimates and the major appliance maker affirmed its full year guidance....

Hecla Mining

Hecla Mining (NYSE symbol HL) is a silver and other precious metals mining company based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The company employs approximately 870 people and owns the Lucky Friday unit in northern Idaho, the San Sebastian unit in the state of Durango, Mexico, and the Greens Creek unit (70% of which was acquired from Rio Tinto in 2008 to take full ownership), near Juneau Alaska. Hecla Mining was founded in 1891.

In February 2009 the company was valued at approximately 260 million dollars. The stock price ranged from 99 cents to $13.14 over the January 2008 to January 2009 period and was trading at $1.50 February, 24, 2009. Hecla produced 8.7 million ounces of silver in 2008.

Hecla negotiated a $65.6 million underwriting share purchase agreement with Canaccord Capital Corp. and Canaccord Adams in 2009. The investing companies will purchase 32 million units of Hecla for $2.05 per unit as well as warrants for additional shares. The proceeds will be used to pay back a $40 million bridge loan. and to reschedule all 2009 term debt payments to 2010 and 2011.

Metal prices dropped sharply as the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis took hold, but the Denver Post reported that Hecla was continuing its explorations for silver in its "recently acquired" San Juan project near Creede, Colorado in 2009.

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Calumet and Hecla Mining Company

Main office of the Hecla and Calumet Mining Company (now the headquarters of the National Historical Park)

The Calumet and Hecla Mining Company was a major copper-mining company based in the Michigan Copper Country. In the 1800s, the company paid out more than $72 million in shareholder dividends, more than any other mining company in the United States during that period.

In 1864, Edwin J. Hulbert discovered a copper-bearing section of what became known as the Calumet Conglomerate of Precambrian age. The find was in Houghton County, Michigan, between the rich Cliff copper mine to the northeast, and the copper mines of Portage Lake to the southwest, but a long way from either. Hulbert formed the Calumet Company in 1865, with Boston investors. The company spun off the Hecla Company the following year, and assigned shares in the new company to Calumet shareholders.

Hulbert was a major shareholder in both companies, and was in charge of mine operations. But despite the rich ore, Hulbert did not have the practical knowledge to dig out the ore, crush it, and concentrate it. Frustrated with Hulbert’s lack of success, the company sent Alexander Agassiz, son of famous geologist Louis Agassiz to Michigan to run the mine.

Under Agassiz’ expert management, the Hecla company paid its first dividend in 1868, and the Calumet company began paying dividends in 1869. The two companies merged in 1871 as the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company. The town of Red Jacket (now named Calumet) formed next to the mine.

Calumet and Hecla built itself into a copper mining colossus. From 1868 through 1886, it was the leading copper producer in the United States, and from 1869 through 1876, the leading copper producer in the world. From 1871 through 1880, Calumet and Hecla turned out more than half the copper produced in the United States. In each year save one between 1870 and 1901, Calumet and Hecla made most of the copper produced in the Michigan copper district.

By 1901 the underground mining complex had 16 shafts. The company operated a large ore treatment facility at Lake Linden, Michigan. The first smelter was built at Hancock, Michigan, but in 1887, the company moved its smelting to the new smelter at Lake Linden. The company later built a second smelter at Buffalo, New York, which took advantage of the cheap electricity generated from Niagara Falls to electrolytically refine copper. Electrolytic refining had the advantage that it separated out the silver from the copper.

Annual copper production from the mines peaked in 1906 at 100 million pounds (45 thousand tonnes), then declined in response to lower prices to 67 million pounds (30 thousand tonnes) by 1912. Output dropped to 46 million pounds (21 thousand tonnes) of refined copper in the strike year of 1913, but rebounded due to high copper prices during World War I to 77 million pounds (35 thousand tonnes) in 1917. The boost in production was attained partly by purchase of the Tamarack Mining Company in 1917. But copper prices fell drastically after the war, and in 1921 copper production fell to 15 million pounds (6800 tonnes) as the company shut the Osceola (amygdaloid) mine in 1920, and shut down mining on the Calumet conglomerate in April 1921.

Copper production rebounded in 1922, and rose steadily through the 1920s. Calumet and Hecla grew in the 1920s by buying and merging with neighboring copper mines. In 1923, Calumet and Hecla merged with the Ahmeek, Allouez, and Centennial mining companies. The combined entity was renamed the Calumet and Hecla Consolidated Copper Company. The merged company essentially controlled all the operating copper mines north of Hancock, Michigan.

The company had always disposed of the mill tailings (locally called stamp sands) in lakes adjacent to the mills, but about 1900 began investigating methods to recover the copper remaining in the waste tailings. Beginning in 1915, C&H began reprocessing the stamp sands at Lake Linden, using a finer grind and ammonia leaching. Once the process proved profitable, the Tamarack mill also began reprocessing tailings. Through 1949, the company had recovered 535 million pounds of copper by reprocessing tailings.

By 1902, Calumet and Hecla had 5,000 employees, and the towns of Calumet (then named Red Jacket), Laurium, and Lake Linden were virtual company towns. The mining superintendents (called “captains”) were traditionally Cornishmen; the workers were Finns, Poles, Italians, Irish, and other immigrant nationalities.

In July 1913, the Western Federation of Miners called a general strike against all mines in the Michigan Copper Country. Hundreds of strikers surrounded the Calumet and Hecla mine shafts to prevent others from reporting to work. All Calumet and Hecla mines shut down during the Copper Country Strike of 1913-1914, although the workers were said to be sharply divided on the strike question. The union demanded an 8-hour day, a minimum wage of $3 per day, an end to use of the one-man pneumatic drill, and that the companies recognize it as the employees’ representative.

The mines reopened under National Guard protection, and many went back to work. The companies instituted the 8-hour day, but refused to set a $3 per day minimum wage, refused to abandon the one-man drill, and especially refused to employ Western Federation of Miners members.

On Christmas Eve 1913, the Western Federation of Miners organized a party for strikers and their families at the Italian Benevolent Society hall in Calumet. The hall was packed with between 400 and 500 people when someone shouted “fire.” There was no fire, but 73 people, 62 of them children, were crushed to death trying to escape. This became known as the Italian Hall Disaster. The strikers held out until April 1914, but then gave up the strike.

Calumet and Hecla employees were not unionized until 1943, when the company signed an agreement with the CIO-affiliated International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers.

During the Great Depression, copper prices dropped, and as a result most copper mines in the Copper Country closed, including Calumet and Hecla. Many mines reopened during World War II, when wartime demand raised the price of copper. After the war copper prices plummeted, and most copper mines closed almost immediately. However, Calumet and Hecla was able to stay afloat due to C&H’s practice of acquiring many of the formerly great mines in the Keweenaw during and before the depression, and as a result outlasted nearly all other mining companies.

The company branched into other minerals after World War II. C&H geologists drilled into a major lead-zinc ore body in Lafayette County southern Wisconsin in 1947. Ore minerals were galena, sphalerite, calcite, and marcasite. The mine, named the Calumet & Hecla mine, opened in 1949. C&H sold the mine to the Eagle Pitcher Co. in 1954. The company also diversified into copper-based products, including a copper tube manufacturing business and fertilizers.

Calumet and Hecla opened the Kingston mine in 1965, the first new native copper mine opened in more than 30 years. By 1967, the company was operating six mines in the region. However, the company by this point was not even able to produce enough copper for its internal uses. Universal Oil Products (U.O.P.) bought Calumet and Hecla in April 1968. But in August of that same year the more than one thousand Calumet and Hecla employees went on strike. The last of its copper mines shut down, and as labor and management were unable to agree, the company shut down the dewatering pumps in 1970. The mines have remained idle ever since, and most are permanently capped.

Today, many Calumet and Hecla company mines and buildings are part of Keweenaw National Historical Park.

Folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote and sang 1913 Massacre, a song about the Italian Hall disaster. His son Arlo Guthrie also recorded the song.

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Copper mining in Michigan

Miners at the Tamarack Mine in the Copper Country of Michigan in 1905.

While it originated thousands of years earlier, copper mining in Michigan became an important industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its rise marked the start of copper mining as a major industry in the United States.

Within the state of Michigan, copper is found almost exclusively in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula, in an area known as the Copper Country. The Copper Country is highly unusual among copper-mining districts, because copper is predominantly found in the form of pure copper metal (native copper) rather than the copper oxides or copper sulfides that form the copper ore at almost every other copper-mining district. The copper deposits occur in rocks of Precambrian age, in a thick sequence of northwest-dipping sandstones, conglomerates, ash beds, and flood basalts associated with the Keweenawan Rift.

Although native copper was the dominant ore mineral, some chalcocite (copper sulfide) was sometimes present, and, especially in the Mohawk mine, copper arsenide minerals. Gange minerals included calcite, quartz, epidote, chlorite, and various zeolites. A number of copper mines also contained a notable amount of silver, both in native form and naturally alloyed with the copper. Halfbreed is the term for an ore sample that contains the pure copper and pure silver in the same piece of rock. This mineral type is only found in the native copper deposits of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Native Americans mined copper from small pits on the Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan as early as 3000 B.C. By the time the first European explorers arrived, the area was the home of the Chippewa people, who did not mine copper. According to Chippewa traditions, they had much earlier supplanted the original miners. The first written account of copper in Michigan was given by French missionary Claude Allouez in 1667. He noted that Indians of the Lake Superior region prized copper nuggets that they found there. Indians guided missionary Claude Dablon to the Ontonagon Boulder, a 1.5-ton piece of native copper along the Ontonagon River. When American prospectors arrived in the 1840s, pieces of copper were found in streams or on the ground. The copper pits abandoned by Native Americans led early miners to most of the first successful mines.

The Michigan State Geologist Douglass Houghton (later to become mayor of Detroit) reported on the copper deposits in 1841, which quickly began a rush of prospectors. Mining took place along a belt that stretched about 100 miles southwest to northeast through Ontonagon, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties. Isle Royale, on the north side of Lake Superior, was extensively explored, and a smelter built, but no mining of any importance took place there. Some copper mineralization was found in Keweenawan rocks farther southwest in Douglas County, Wisconsin, but no successful mines were developed there.

Copper mining in the Upper Peninsula boomed, and from 1845 until 1887 (when it was exceeded by Butte, Montana) the Michigan Copper Country was the nation's leading producer of copper. In most years from 1850 through 1881, Michigan produced more than three-quarters of the nation's copper, and in 1869 produced more than 95% of the country's copper.

Commercial production began in 1844 at the Phoenix mine. Most early miners began with little knowledge or planning, and few mines ever saw production, much less profit. The first successful copper mine, the Cliff mine, began operations in 1845, and many others quickly followed. These first mines worked copper-filled fissure veins that cut across stratigraphic layers.

Although the copper-mining region stretched about 100 miles from northeast to southwest, the most productive early mines, working fissure veins, were those at the north end in Keweenaw County (such as the Central, Cliff, and Phoenix mines), or at the south end in Ontonagon County (such as the Minesota Mine).

In Keweenaw County, the fissure lodes were nearly vertical mineralized zones with strike nearly perpendicular to that of the enclosing basalts and conglomerates. In Ontanogan county, by contrast, the fissures had strikes nearly parallel to, and dips slightly steeper than, the surrounding beds.

In the 1850s, mining began on stratiform native copper deposits in felsite-pebble conglomerates and in the upper zones of basalt lava flows (locally called amygdaloids). Although amygdaloid and conglomerate deposits tended to be lower-grade than the fissure deposits, they were much larger, and could be mined much more efficiently, with the ore blasted out, hoisted to the surface, and sent to stamp mills located at a different site. Amygdaloid and conglomerate mining turned out to be much more productive and profitable than fissure mining, and the majority of highly successful mines were on amygdaloid or conglomerate lodes. The first mine to successfully mine a strataform ore body was the Quincy Mine in 1856. The most productive deposit, the Calumet conglomerate, was opened by the Calumet and Hecla mining company in 1865.

While the most successful fissure mines had been at the north and south ends of the district, the conglomerate and amygdaloid mines, which produced the great majority of Michigan copper, were concentrated in the center of the district, almost all in Houghton County. The most productive conglomerate and amygdaloid mines were located along a strip about two miles wide and 24 miles long, from the Champion mine on the southwest to the Ahmeek mine on the northeast, passing through the towns of Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet.

In the early 20th century, copper companies began to consolidate. With very few exceptions, such as the Quincy Mine at Hancock, the mines in the Copper Country came under the control of two companies: the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company north of Portage Lake, and Copper Range Company south of Portage Lake.

Annual production peaked in 1916 at 266 million pounds (121 thousand tonnes) of copper. Most mines closed during the great depression as a result of depressed copper prices. Many mines reopened during World War II, when wartime demand pushed copper prices higher. The end of the war brought an end to high prices, and nearly all companies closed, leaving only the Calumet and Hecla, Quincy, and Copper Range mining companies. Both Calumet and Hecla and Quincy survived largely by reprocessing the stamp sand left from older mining operations, leaching out copper left by more primitive processing techniques.

By 1968 the formerly great Calumet and Hecla was purchased by Universal Oil and became the company's Calumet division. By this time the Calumet and Hecla's original conglomerate workings had been abandoned and stamp sand reclamation had ended. The mines did not even produce enough copper to supply the company's internal demand. The company opened several new shafts and dewatered several old ones in hopes of finding additional wealth, but none were successful. Later that year, Calumet and Hecla's mine workers went out on strike, and the new owners closed the mines for good. Only the Copper Range company's White Pine mine remained open, and its ore was mostly copper sulfides, rather than native copper. Michigan's native copper industry was essentially dead, after producing 11 billion pounds (5.0 million tonnes) of copper.

Several companies attempted to reopen copper mines during the next two decades, including attempts by the Homestake Mining Company. None of these attempts lasted more than a couple years or proved profitable.

The copper industry was, for over 100 years, the life blood of the Copper Country. The town of Red Jacket (now Calumet) used a portion of its budget surplus to build The Calumet Theatre, an opulent opera house which hosted famous plays and acts from across the world. Many wealthy mine managers built mansions which still line the streets of former mining towns. Some towns which existed primarily due to copper mining include Calumet, Houghton, Hancock, and Ontonagon. As the mines began to close, the Copper Country lost its major economic base. The population declined sharply as miners, shop owners, and others supported by the industry left the area, leaving many small ghost towns along the mineral range.

Tourism and logging are now the major industries. The copper industry left many abandoned mines and buildings across the Copper Country. Some of these are now part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Some mines, such as the Quincy Mine and the Delaware Mine, are open as tourist attractions. Many other mining lands are simply left abandoned.

Copper mining also took a significant impact on the environment. Mine rock processing operations left many fields of stamp sand, some of which grew so large as to become hazards to navigation in the Keweenaw Waterway. Most of these sterile sands are now superfund sites which are slowly being rehabilitated. Mines also required a great deal of wood, largely for supports in mine tunnels. Virtually every part of the Copper Country was cleared of timber, to the extent that only one small area of old-growth forest (the Estivant Pines) is left. Formerly cleared lands have been left to regrow, to the extent that many parcels of land are now being harvested on a limited basis by timber and paper companies.

The copper-bearing Nonesuch Shale at the south end of the Copper Country in Ontonagon County had been known since the 1800s. But the ore grades were too low, the ore mineral particles too small, and the copper was largely in sulfides instead of native copper. All these conditions made the shale deposits uneconomic, although repeated attempts were made to mine the shale at the Nonesuch mine.

In 1955 the Copper Range Company began large-scale mining at the White Pine mine, near the old Nonesuch mine. The deposit is a strataform deposit in the lower 15 m of the Proterozoic Nonesuch Shale and the upper 2 m of the underlying Copper Harbor Conglomerate. The principal ore mineral was chalcocite, although native copper predominated in the lower part of the beds. The mine was very successful, producing more than 1.8 million metric tons of copper during its life. The White Pine mine, the last major copper mine in Michigan, shut down in 1995.

The company applied to government agencies to continue mining by in-situ leaching, using sulfuric acid to recover an additional 900 million pounds of copper by SX-EW. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the permit in May 1996, and White Pine installed a pilot in-situ leaching project. Native Americans of the Bad River Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin blockaded rail shipments of sulfuric acid to the mine (see Bad River Train Blockade); the mine began receiving acid shipments by truck. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA), which had previously held that it had no role in the permitting, reversed itself, and stated that White Pine would have to apply for a federal permit. White Pine, which had already started to recover copper from the pilot project, suspended solution mining in October 1996, and applied for to the EPA for the permit. In May 1997 the company withdrew the EPA permit application, saying that further permitting delays had made the project uneconomic, and announced plans to begin reclamation of the mine site.

The tailings impoundment at the White Pine Mine is presently the site of significant environmental degradation. The University of Montana undertook extensive efforts to restore and revegatate the barren landscape from 1997-1999, but it is unclear whether this has been successful. The university has published a detailed report of its project. Satellite images are available at (46°47′17.91″N 89°31′47.97″W / 46.7883083°N 89.5299917°W / 46.7883083; -89.5299917).

Kennecott Minerals Corporation has proposed to open a nickel-copper mine called the Eagle mine project in the Yellow Dog Plains, about 25 miles northwest of Marquette, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Construction work is expected to start in 2008, with production beginning in late 2009. Mining the underground orebody is projected to continue until 2016, after which the site will be reclaimed. The ore deposit is estimated to contain up to 140 thousand tonnes of nickel and 91 thousand tonnes of copper, as well as platinum, palladium, and cobalt.

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Source : Wikipedia