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Court OKs Hecla Superfund settlement

 The U.S. District Court in Idaho has approved a $263.4 million settlement with Hecla Mining Co., the silver producer said Sept. 9, which would bring closer to an end one of the nation’s largest Superfund lawsuits.

The Department of Justice said in June that the miner would distribute funds to the U.S., Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene tribal governments for releasing mining wastes improperly.

The initial payment of $167 million is expected to be paid by Oct. 8. A second $25 million payment will be made next year, and $15 million will be paid the year after that, Hecla said. The rest of the settlement will be paid for by the exercise of warrants. The warrants, which have an exercise price between $2.45 and $2.50 per share, have a total exercise price of $56 million. Hecla plays to dole the proceeds out in quarterly payments and any remaining balance will be paid in August of 2014.

Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had $377 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30 and no debt.

The historic mining district in Kellogg, Idaho, was declared a Superfund site – one of the nation’s most polluted areas – in 1983 after decades of mining activities left waterways and surrounding land polluted with heavy metals. Numerous mining companies have since settled with the government to help pay for costs of cleanup.

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