Greens Creek | Alaska | Hecla Mining (2023)

Good Stewards of Admiralty Island

Virtually everything we do at Hecla Greens Creek is designed to care for and protect our very special part of Alaska. We are located on Admiralty Island about 18 miles southwest of Juneau and 40 miles north of Angoon.

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Most of Admiralty Island is a federally protected wilderness area administered by the Tongass National Forest. More than 955,000 acres (3,860 km2) of it have been designated as a national monument. Greens Creek sits inside the national monument on the northwest end of the island, but outside the 936,649-acre Kootznoowoo Wilderness area.

We are the only mine in the U.S. allowed to operate inside a federally protected natural monument, which means our safety and environmental record must be among the best in the world.

Good Stewards of Admiralty Island

Our Workers

Environmental stewardship starts with safety, and safety is reliant on the quality, training, and dedication of our people. Hecla Greens Creek prioritizes finding the best people and arming them with thorough training and quality leadership. Our goal is to ensure Hecla employees always put safety first in everything they do every day. This is important for the safety of our mine, our environment and our employees, and it means we must maintain a dedication to both big-picture engineering and everyday worksite behaviors.

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One of our engineers was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Hecla Greens Creek received a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award in 2013.

(Video) Greens Creek – A Day in the Life

Our Workers

Air and Water Protection

Hecla Greens Creek meets the very stringent state and federal standards for air and water quality. In addition, we continually work to devise ways to conserve water through efficient operations, engineering and training.

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Our regulators monitor the mine through a robust program of sampling, quality analysis and audits. We discharge water into Hawk Inlet that is treated to the state’s stringent water quality standards. This discharge is regulated through state and federal permits, and ongoing monitoring finds it is well within the permitting thresholds.

Air and Water Protection

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is not just good for our environment, it’s good business. Hecla Greens Creek utilizes hydropower provided by the Juneau-area utility company, Alaska Electric Light and Power (AEL&P), whenever it is available. Our power purchase allowed AEL&P to expand its hydropower capability. Since 2006, the use of lower-cost, interruptible hydropower has resulted in a 60% reduction in diesel-fuel consumption for our operation. The AEL&P expansion even resulted in significantly lower electricity costs for residents of the Juneau area. In fact, AEL&P customers have some of the lowest electricity rates in Alaska.

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Energy Conservation

(Video) Hecla Mining: Mine Life at Greens Creek

Tailings Now and During Reclamation

Hecla Greens Creek Mine was an early adopter of the dry-stack method of tailings management. This method, while not applicable to all situations, minimizes the tailings surface footprint, reduces the amount of water retained in the tailings and lessens the consequences of any potential failure. This method also allows the opportunity for concurrent reclamation that further enhances the site’s stability.

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To read more about dry-stack tailings, click here.

To review the 2013 Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the Greens Creek Mine tailings disposal facility expansion, please go here.

Tailings Now and During Reclamation

Reducing Waste

Hecla Greens Creek strives to reduce waste output on all fronts. We continuously explore the environmentally responsible use of resources, products and materials. We have developed active programs for reuse, recycling and recovery of all non-mineral wastes. Mineral waste (rock from mining development and mill tailings) remains on site and is utilized as much as possible for backfill in our underground mine and construction in and around our operation. Approximately half of the tailings produced are used as backfill inside the mine.

Responsibility to the Environment

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Reducing Waste

(Video) Hecla Mining: Greens Creek is World Class

Life of Mine Responsibility: Restoration

Hecla Greens Creek is required to return the mine site to a natural state after mining operations have ceased years from now. This includes removing structures, regrading and seeding the land, protecting and monitoring the tailings-storage facility and monitoring water quality. Over time, native trees and plants should reclaim the area. Some material will be buried in on-site landfill trenches that will be covered with soil and reclaimed, as required by regulatory agencies.

To pay for this reclamation, we have posted a $69 million bond held by state and federal agencies. Regulators have determined that a $13.6 million trust fund is expected to cover ongoing water treatment. The state now holds a surety bond in that amount.

Click to read more about our reclamation plan and financial assurance with the U.S. Forest Service and State of Alaska.

Updated Expansion Plan

Greens Creek files plan to expand tailings disposal facility

Expected to extend mine’s operation

JUNEAU, AK – Hecla Greens Creek mine has filed an amendment to its General Plan of Operations to expand its Tailing Disposal Facility (TDF) by approximately 13.7 acres. The expansion is primarily inside the existing U.S. Forest Service lease area and should allow mine operations to continue past 2031, when the current facility is expected to be full.

“This amendment culminates years of careful planning to develop a plan that minimizes impacts on Admiralty Island National Monument and the fish-bearing sections of Tributary Creek,” said Greens Creek VP and General Manager Brian Erickson. “We believe our proposed plan maximizes disposal volume and minimizes new disturbance.”

The filing sets off a formal process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which began with the October 9, 2020 publication of anotice of intent (NOI) in the Federal Register. The NOI describes the proposed scoping process, including meetings and how the public can get involved, along with consultations with tribes.

Hecla’s proposed plan:

(Video) Hecla Mining: Greens Creek Stable Careers

  • Avoids new Monument disturbance outside the existing U.S. Forest Service-approved Greens Creek Lease Boundary
  • Avoids direct disturbance to fish-bearing reaches of Tributary Creek
  • Avoids the need to construct a new, remote tailings-disposal facility
  • Continues the same or similar dry-stack tailings-disposal method, which has been previously reviewed and approved by the U.S. Forest Service
  • Extends the existing tailings stack in a manner that minimizes disturbance. To the extent practical, it locates the extended tailings stack and new, associated, supporting infrastructure on areas already disturbed and/or on areas immediately adjacent to existing disturbance. Where possible, the company plans to use in-place infrastructure, such as roads, water-treatment facilities, drainage control, etc.
  • Minimizes direct, new disturbance to environmental resources and sensitive habitats, such as jurisdictional waters of the U.S.
  • Considers future closure and reclamation as part of design and operations
  • Designs and constructs the TDF to be technically feasible and environmentally sound
  • Greens Creek has used a dry-stack tailings-disposal technique from its beginning in 1988. Dry stacking eliminates the need for embankment and a slurry pond and reduced the initial tailings footprint.
  • The mine requested TDF expansions in 2001 and 2010 as exploration activity identified additional resources. In both cases, the U.S. Forest Service employed the NEPA process to review the extensions, and in both cases, determined the existing site continued to be the appropriate and most environmentally sensitive place for TDF expansion.
  • Greens Creek is a major economic and philanthropic pillar in Southeast Alaska. It is Juneau’s largest taxpayer and largest private-sector employer. It helps support more than 50 nonprofits in the Juneau area, including the Pathways to Mining program at the University of Alaska Southeast. Recently, Hecla Mining Company, through its Charitable Foundation, committed up to $125,000 in financial assistance to support community needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

Permit Timeline

The permitting process is a rigorous, transparent and objective process that assesses a proposed project. The process involves federal, state, and local levels evaluating if a project meets the environmentally responsible standards to be approved. There are many important stages that must be completed. Here is where we are:

Process:

Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to 2013 Record of Decision

USFS Project website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57306

October 2020—Virtual scoping meetings and public comment

November 2020—Scoping comments closed

February 2022—Draft SEIS published and public comment

April 2022—DSEIS public comments closed

December 2022—Draft record of decision and objection period

March 2023—Final record of decision

March 2027—All other federal, state, local permits in hand

Life of Mine Responsibility: Restoration

FAQs

What does Greens Creek Mine mine? ›

Greens Creek Mine is a large underground silver, zinc, lead, and gold mine located on the northern end of Admiralty Island National Monument, affecting about 320 acres of the non-wilderness Monument lands.

Who owns Greens Creek Mine? ›

Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co., which owns the underground Greens Creek mine near Juneau, reported silver production of approximately 2.55 million ounces in the second quarter July 13.

What does Hecla Mining Company mine? ›

Hecla Mining is a gold, silver and other precious metals mining company based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Founded in 1891, is the second-largest mining company that produces silver in the country. This area is known as the Silver Valley (Idaho).

Where are Hecla mines located? ›

About Hecla

We have operating mines in Alaska, Idaho, Quebec, Canada, and Yukon Territory, Canada. We also have a number of exploration properties in world-class silver and gold mining districts throughout North America.

Where is silver mined in Alaska? ›

The Admiralty mining district is a mining area in the U.S. state of Alaska which consists of Admiralty Island. Silver and base metals are mined, with gold recovered as a by-product.

Does Hecla produce copper? ›

Mining officials have said that together the two mines beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness could produce more than 500 million ounces of silver and 4 billion pounds of copper, making them one of the largest untapped deposits of either mineral in the world.

Is Hecla a provincial park? ›

Central Parks

It's a place where endless days of outdoor adventure await. This place is called Hecla / Grindstone Provincial Park, and it is a series of islands between the east and west shores of Lake Winnipeg.

What state has the most silver? ›

Silver mine production in the United States 2015-2019, by state. In 2019, Alaska produced 540 metric tons of silver, becoming the largest silver mining state in the U.S. The second-largest U.S. silver producing state, Nevada, produced 190 metric tons of the metal that year.

Where is the largest silver mine in the world? ›

In 2021, the KGHM Polska Miedź mine in Poland produced roughly 42 million ounces of silver, making it the world's largest primary silver mine. The Saucito mine in Mexico, owned by Fresnillo plc, the largest producer of silver in the world, was ranked eighth, and produced 12.4 million ounces that year.

What is the largest silver mine in USA? ›

Here are the five largest silver mines by production in the US, according to GlobalData's mining database.
  1. Cortez Mine. The Cortez Mine is a surface and underground mine located in Nevada. ...
  2. Greens Creek Mine. Companies Intelligence. ...
  3. Red Dog Mine. The Red Dog Mine is located in Alaska. ...
  4. Continental Mine. ...
  5. MariGold Mine.
21 Sept 2021

How deep is the Quincy mine? ›

2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse was built for Quincy's deepest mine. It extended over 9,000 feet at an angle and reached a total depth of 6,225 feet below the Earth's surface. It was built in 1908 during some of Quincy's most productive years. Production stopped at this Shaft-Rockhouse in 1945.

Are there abandoned mines in Michigan? ›

Michigan Abandoned Underground Mines

The inventory project reports were finalized in early 1999, and consist of two parts, an inventory of all of the Abandoned Underground Mines and a report of those locations needing safety remedies.

Where was the Calumet Hecla mine? ›

History. 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 mine to the northeast, and the copper mines of Portage Lake to the southwest, but a long way from either.

Are there bears on Hecla Island? ›

Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park is home to a healthy bear population. If you are camping at the campground, there are things that, if left out, will attract a bear. During the summer, they are trying to gain double their body weight so that they can survive the winter in their dens.

Can you swim in Hecla? ›

Located in the south-west of Lake Winnipeg, the Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park has some great spots for birding, hiking, fishing, and swimming.

Why is Hecla campground closed? ›

The Hecla Gull Harbour Campground, at Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park, is now closed until further notice for repairs. According to a provincial spokesperson, staff were servicing the campground's main sewer line when they discovered that one of the original sewer lines collapsed.

Where is the most silver mined? ›

Mexico, the world's biggest silver producing country, and Poland host three each of the world's ten biggest silver mines. Bolivia, Turkey, Peru and Australia host the remaining four. Mining-technology.com profiles the ten biggest silver mines in the world, based on contained silver reserves.

What is the biggest mine in Alaska? ›

Hecla Greens Creek Mine

Greens Creek is the largest silver mine in the U.S., and in the top 10 producers worldwide. Greens Creek is also the largest Southeast Alaska for-profit employer, in terms of payroll.

What precious metals are found in Alaska? ›

Gold, silver, copper, zinc, graphite, cobalt, lead, Rare Earth Elements, and other minerals are found in Alaska, many of which are actively mined.

What does silver look like in its natural state? ›

For ores where the most valuable element is silver, the silver is normally contained in minerals colored gray to black in appearance. These minerals range from a metallic sheen to an earthy soot-like appearance. Sooty black minerals are common in many very rich silver ore samples.

Videos

1. Hecla Mining: Greens Creek’s Impact on the Community
(Hecla Mining Company)
2. Greens Creek Underground 1
(Chip McMillan)
3. Greens Creek Mine's wastewater discharge into Hawk Inlet
(SEACCorg)
4. Protecting our Workforce at Greens Creek
(Hecla Mining Company)
5. Hecla Mining: Greens Creek Water Treatment
(Hecla Mining Company)
6. Hecla Greens Creek Community Support
(Hecla Mining Company)
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