Lucky Friday Mine

Courtesy of the Marek family.

It's been more than three years since a tunnel collapse at a north Idaho silver mine killed miner Larry Marek. Yet federal records show a series of federal penalties issued to the mine's owners still have not been paid.

In 2011, federal inspectors determined the Hecla Mining Company violated rules meant to prevent collapse at the Lucky Friday Mine. The inspectors issued four citations directly related to Larry Marek’s death with federal fines that totaled almost $360,000.

To this day, those fines remain unpaid.

Federal inspectors have shut down the primary shaft into a troubled silver mine in north Idaho. The order comes on the heels of three tragic accidents that led the owners of the Lucky Friday Mine to take a two-month hiatus from mining to make safety improvements.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The rockburst that injured seven miners in north Idaho last week registered as a 2.2 seismic event according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That contradicts earlier reports about what could have caused the collapse. The mine remains closed while federal officials investigate the incident.

It's a matter of cause and effect. Did an earthquake trigger the rockburst at the Lucky Friday Mine ... or was the shaking caused by the collapse a mile underground?

Jessica Robinson / KPLU

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – It's been five months since a rockfall at the Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho killed veteran miner Larry Marek. Much about the accident is still unknown. But public records going back several years suggest the federal agency that oversees mines did not adequately ensure the safety of workers at the Lucky Friday.

A 2008 report on another collapse there went missing. And since Larry Marek’s death, inspectors have found a dramatically higher number of safety violations.