MULLAN, Idaho -- Hecla Mining Co. has resumed operations at the Lucky Friday Mine, following a yearlong pause mandated by federal investigators.

Hecla spent the last 12 months rehabilitating its silver shaft in a $29.8 million project. The company says the down time allowed employees to clean and improve the efficiency in the shaft, as well as make upgrades and add millions of dollars worth of new equipment.

New and returning employees underwent safety training, which included learning risk assessment and accident prevention.

In all Lucky Friday working areas, as well as at all of Hecla s other operations, we strive to meet or exceed the National Mining Association s CORESafety Program, which is the industry benchmark for operations and safety implemented in 2009, as well as all (Mine and Safety Health Administration) MSHA-approved guidelines, CEO Phillips Baker, Jr. said.

The MSHA ordered the closure of the mine s silver shaft during an investigation into an accident that left seven miners trapped in Dec. 2011. Two miners died in a separate incident at the mine the previous year.

The mine is expected to produce about 2 million ounces of silver this year, and 5 million ounces annually by 2016.

Hecla will discuss the reopening Tuesday afternoon in a press conference.

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