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Bunker Hill continues its story

by MOLLY ROBERTS
Staff Reporter | June 28, 2022 5:05 AM

KELLOGG — The Historic Bunker Hill Mine has a storied past, including allegedly being discovered by a jackass, incidences of labor unrest in the late 1800s, a cave-in in 1894, and even environmental sanctions that prompted a shut down in the 1980s.

But it appears that a new chapter is about to begin.

Last week, Bunker Hill Mining Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Director, Sam Ash, along with Chief Financial Officer David Weins, held an update on the progress being made to rapidly restart the mine.

The Bunker Hill Mine, one of the largest of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, was discovered by Noah Kellogg in 1885. As the legend goes, Kellogg went looking for his burro, who had wandered off and was found near an outcrop of galena ore. Kellogg ended up staking ground, with the first production of the mine coming in 1891. Over the years, the mine produced a total of 162 million ounces of silver and about 40 million tons of ore. During these operations though, there was little regard for environmental impact and stewardship.

Bunker Hill was eventually shut down in 1981, impacted by the implementation of environmental legislation, and was the center of an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site in 1983, with limited production from 1982-1991. The site cleanup went in stages through 2016, including dismantling the lead smelter, replacing topsoil, and completing water diversion projects. Until 2020, the historic infrastructure had been largely left alone, with little to no work being done to advance the restart. It was only when Ash and the Bunker Hill Mining Company stepped in that plans to restart the once massively productive mine went into effect.

During their update, Ash spoke of the restart process and the progress that has been made underground so far.

“In Wardner, the development between the 5-level to 6-level decline is progressing on budget with an unexpected breakthrough to the Newgard Ramp in September. This opens up access to roughly one-third of the resource, and puts us at an excellent position to resume mining operations.”

On the surface level, the new General Manager, Tom Francis, has been overseeing the cleanup and preparation of the site to receive the Pend Oreille Mill equipment and ultimately begin construction on a mill later this summer.

“Several buildings have been demolished in preparation, as well as a tremendous amount of cleanup both external and internal to the existing buildings and infrastructure,” Ash said. “At Pend Orielle, mill demobilization is well underway with significant amounts of equipment already making the two-hour journey between that site and Kellogg.”

Mike Eiselien, the Mill and Processing manager, oversees the engineering of the processing plant design and ensures that construction will be ready later this year. An assessment is underway to reuse the system buildings to house the new mill.

Ash stated in a June 14 press release that, “we are excited to report significant early progress on the mill dismantling and demobilization process at Pend Oreille, including the successful removal and relocation of the surface crushing facility to Bunker Hill. Completion of the demobilization process is targeted for the end of the third quarter, setting us up well for the start of construction thereafter.” He then explained, “We are also very pleased to report that all closing conditions for the purchase of the mill have now been met, a key milestone for the company as we continue to advance towards a restart of the mine by end of 2023. The site is more than large enough to handle all of the key aspects of the processing facility.”

Bunker Hill has also been busy testing a pilot water treatment plant for the past few months. Partnering with MineWater LLC, Ash explained, “this is a 1 in 20 scale plant meant to test the applicability of the water treatment solution to meet both the flow rate and water quality standards that we must achieve with our water treatment facility.”

A press release from June 20 announced the execution and closing of a new $15 million convertible debenture financing with Sprott Private Resources Streaming & Royalty Corp (Sprott).

Ash stated in the release, “we are very pleased to announce this new $15 million financing, representing an increase in our project finance package with Sprott to $66 million. Together with our recent equity raise, this materially improves our working capital position, enables us to meet our financial assurance obligations with the EPA, and funds several key work streams over the coming months including completion of the underground decline, demobilization of the Pend Oreille mill, and further engineering optimization in preparation for the mine restart.”

Ash ended the recent update by saying that he is happy to say that the initial results look very good indeed.

“In summary, I would like to thank you all for watching the significant progress that we are making at the Bunker Hill Site.“

For more information on Bunker Hill Mine and its updates, visit https://www.bunkerhillmining.com/

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