Idaho mine closed after 7 miners injured

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Three serious accidents this year at Idaho’s Lucky Friday Mine prompted the federal government Thursday to temporarily shut down the mile-deep mine, which until this year had operated without a fatality for 25 years.

Two miners died in separate accidents earlier this year. On Wednesday night, seven miners were injured during a rock burst while working 5,900 feet below the surface. All were safely rescued.

The incident prompted the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to shut down the Lucky Friday while it investigates the cause.

“We’ve issued a closure order so the entire mine is shut down,” said Amy Louviere, spokeswoman for the agency in Washington, D.C. “We will conduct a thorough investigation and we will not allow it to reopen until we are sure it is safe.”

She could not say how long the mine would be closed.

The agency issued a scathing report after the April death of a miner at the Lucky Friday. A second miner died in a November accident.

In the Wednesday night accident, none of the seven miners suffered life-threatening injuries. All were brought to the surface within an hour of the rock burst, said Melanie Hennessey, spokeswoman for owner Hecla Mining Co.

“There was a broken arm and some stitches, but overall they were quickly removed from the area and brought to local hospitals to be treated,” Hennessey said.

The area where the miners were injured had suffered a rock burst about a month ago. At the time of Wednesday night’s rock burst, miners were erecting a system of mesh material designed to contain such bursts, Hennessey said.

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