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Mar 13, 3:36 PM EDT

Officials seek to reopen Idaho mine following settlement

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- A northern Idaho mine could be put back into operation following the settlement of a federal lawsuit against the mine's owner.

A settlement agreement was filed Monday in federal court in Boise to resolve environmental liabilities against the owner of Bunker Hill Mine and end a counter lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, The Spokesman-Review reported .

The Bunker Hill Mining Co. is planning to reopen the mine near Kellogg on a limited basis by the end of the year, said CEO Bruce Reid. The company is seeking to resume large-scale production in about two years.

Placer Mining Co. has owned the mine since 1991. The Bunker Hill Mining Co., headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is leasing the lead-zinc-silver property from the owner.

The mine and smelter closed in 1981 after nearly a century of operations. The smelter was designated a federal Superfund site in 1983.

"EPA is clearing the way for a new operator to resume mining, bringing jobs back to the community, while also securing the ongoing cleanup of contaminated water and recovery of EPA's past cleanup costs," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

Under the settlement, the mining company has agreed to pay $20 million to the federal government over seven years on Placer Mining's behalf. It will also pay about $1 million each year to treat discharges from the mine.

Through the settlement, the EPA is looking to recover part of the $24 million the agency has spent on water treatment at the mine.

The mining company is expecting to hire about 300 people when the mine becomes fully operational, said Nicholas Konkin, the company's marketing and communication manager.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

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