Innovation

Innovation is the bedrock on which we operate. We invest in the technologies that help keep our workers safe and apply new mining techniques to decrease environmental impact while increasing production. We endeavor to extend the lifespan of our mines in order to provide long-term employment in rural communities.

Innovation Impact: Safety

By automating certain mining tasks, we allow miners to do more planning and problem solving while the machines do the repetitive work tasks.

A photo of a man using a tablet.

Staying Connected Underground

Fiber optic cable and “hotspots” bring wireless technology more than a mile below the surface in solid rock, enabling our workers to use tablets underground.

A miner working with a computer.

Battery-Operated Load, Haul, and Dump (LHD) Equipment

Hecla is an early adopter of Teleremote battery-operated load, haul, and dump (LHD) equipment. This technology is remotely administered and reduces energy use and heat output. It operates with zero emissions, and it significantly lowers noise levels and improves worker safety by moving employees away from the mine-face. It also allows one operator to run up to three machines from the same station.

Hecla Promotes a Culture of Innovation

Autonomous Trucks

Our autonomous 24-hour underground truck operation at the Casa Berardi Mine has increased safety, increased payloads, and decreased energy use. The expected cost savings from just two trucks totals around $3 M per year.

8%
17%

Jumbo Stope Drill

Hecla uses an automated jumbo stope drill at our Casa Berardi Mine that allows drilling during shift changes and improves drill accuracy while also increasing productivity and efficiency.

Mine Ventilation Timers

At our Casa Berardi Mine, we employ timers on the mine ventilation systems to reduce electricity consumption for underground ventilation by 23%.

Underhand Closed Bench (UCB) Method

One example of innovation at our Lucky Friday operation is the innovative Underhand Closed Bench (UCB) method for underground mining to achieve better control of fault-slip seismic events that often occur in deep, high-stress, narrow-vein mining. Hecla has been operating underground mines in Idaho’s Silver Valley for over 130 years, and the development of the patent-pending UCB method clearly demonstrates that we remain focused on finding new methods and practices to operate our mines more safely and efficiently. Learn more in our 2021 Sustainability Report.

Worker Retraining

Hecla places particular emphasis on ensuring employees are able to manage and execute emerging technologies that make our workplace safer and more efficient. For example: We have advanced worker progression skill training in partnership with North Idaho College and the Workforce Training Center in Coeur d’Alene to equip the Lucky Friday hourly workforce in expanding their skills sets.

An image of a Hecla employee in a vehicle.