We use technology to work better, safer
Hecla uses and develops new technologies to maximize the safety of our people and our environment, to improve efficiency, to reduce our footprint, to limit our impact and to achieve our primary goal: responsible mining. This definitely is not your grandfather’s mine.
Hecla consistently adopts technological advances in mining across the entire project – from communications to mining tools to personal safety gear.
We use applications such as high-speed wireless data transfer for underground monitoring, communication, data assessment and remote control. We are advancing tele-remote and battery-powered load, haul and dump equipment. This both reduces ventilation requirements and improves worker safety and lower emissions. Hecla is adopting automated, jumbo stope drilling and shaft operations between shifts, as well as autonomous haulage systems.
Our operations have upgraded underground ventilation, converted to biodiesel use, implemented cleaner engine technology and exhaust filtration, introduced enclosed and environmentally controlled cabs, and required protective equipment in high-exposure tasks and work areas.
Reducing lead exposure in the mill operations is also a priority. Annual blood tests measure employee exposure, which is minimized through personal hygiene training and the use of state-of-the-art respirators.
VENTILATION-ON-DEMAND: Right speed at right time
By mounting variable-frequency drives to our underground fans, we’re able to operate those fans at the right speeds at the right time, which in turn lowers our power consumption. Just one of these drives can save about $23,000 over the course of a single year. We currently have 14 of these drives operating in a test (out of a total of 55). We’re already saving money today, and can roll out this technology throughout Greens Creek and our other mines to potentially save even more in the future. In addition, these technologies are lowering our environmental footprint – reducing greenhouse gas emissions, potentially reducing the volume of non-ore material brought to the surface, and improving water management at our mines.
Click here for a flyer on Innovation at Greens Creek.
We’ve been doing a lot of exploring to expand the life of our operations. Hecla believes we can increase our silver, gold, lead and zinc reserves by 15 to 20 percent – while staying within our current operational area. We think our new development plan will yield 8 percent higher grades over the next four years without significantly increasing capital spend.
Now that’s Miner Strong!