A Coeur d’Alene-based mining company with large operations in Idaho, Alaska and Quebec, Canada is taking over the Revett Mining Company, Inc. and in the process will permanently close the Troy Mine.
Revett and Hecla Mining Company made a joint announcement about the acquisition on Friday morning. The transaction still needs to be approved by Revett’s shareholders but officials with both companies expect the deal to close sometime in June. In the proposed merger, Revett shareholders will get $20 million in Hecla stock.
Revett CEO John Shanahan called the announcement “bittersweet” because while it meant the end of mining in Troy, the takeover also offered the best chance to permit and open the much larger Rock Creek Mine in nearby Sanders County. Rock Creek has been in the permitting process for a number of years and Revett has estimated it could produce 229 million ounces of silver and 2 billion pounds of copper.
“This is good news for the Rock Creek project and for the local communities,” Shanahan told the Beacon shortly after the announcement. “Hecla has the capabilities to get this project across the finish line.”
The announcement was just the latest in a series of ups and downs for the Troy Mine in Lincoln County. In January, after struggling to reopen for two years following a series of underground rock falls, Revett announced it was placing the copper and silver mine into care and maintenance mode. The shuttered state meant that the mine could still be reopened in the future and earlier this year Shanahan said he was confident that would happen when copper and silver prices rebounded.
In the past, Revett officials said the Troy Mine was critical in helping the company eventually open the much larger Rock Creek Mine. If the deal goes through, Hecla will begin the reclamation process at the Troy Mine by tearing down buildings and permanently closing off the mine.
“For Revett, the Troy Mine was important because it gave us the operating experience so that we could hit the ground running at Rock Creek. But Hecla has that operating experience from its operations in the Silver Valley,” Shanahan said. “In a few years from now you’ll be able to go to the Troy Mine site and never even know a mine was there.”
Hecla was established in 1891 and owns two silver mines, the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska and the Lucky Silver Mine in Mullan, Idaho. It also owns an underground gold mine in western Quebec. The Lucky Silver Mine has been open since 1942. In 2014, it produced an average of 850 tons of ore per day and 3.2 million ounces of silver.
In 2012, the Mine Safety and Health Administration forced the company to temporarily close the mine after three different accidents in 2011 killed two miners and injured seven. The mine reopened in early 2013 after Hecla spent $2.3 million on new equipment and hired additional safety experts.
Hecla officials said they were interested in the Rock Creek project because of its untapped potential. Rock Creek, located near Noxon, is considered one of the largest undeveloped silver and copper deposits in North America.
“We are acquiring Revett with an eye to the future, as Rock Creek is another world-class silver-copper deposit that we see becoming another Greens Creek,” said Hecla’s CEO and President Phillips Baker Jr. “Our experience in Greens Creek operating in a National Monument in Alaska since 1997 will be invaluable as we take a patient and persistent approach to permitting and then responsibly operating the Rock Creek Mine. Combining this operational expertise with our financial strength, and an unwavering commitment to safety and building strong community relationships, gives us confidence that we are well-positioned to move Rock Creek forward, to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
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