The largest mining company in Idaho’s Silver Valley will pay $263.4 million plus interest to settle one of the nation’s largest Superfund lawsuits – one of the top 10 such settlements in history, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced that Hecla Mining Co., of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will pay the money to the United States, the state of Idaho and Coeur d’Alene tribal governments for releasing mining wastes into the environment.
The money will be used in the Environmental Protection Agency’s multi-billion dollar cleanup of toxic mining wastes. Hecla is the nation’s largest silver producer, operating the Lucky Friday Mine in the Silver Valley and a mine in Mexico.
The agreement was filed Monday in federal court in Boise, Idaho.
The lawsuit was originally brought in 1991 against Hecla and other mining companies in the Silver Valley by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, seeking penalties for damage to water, fish and birds caused by millions of tons of mining wastes that were released into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and its tributaries.