COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) -- Hecla Mining Company officials could decide next spring whether to move forward with an expansion of the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho.

Hecla President Phillips Baker Jr. said he's highly confident the company will launch the $150 million to $200 million project, which would exploit mineral deposits below the existing mine works.

The Spokesman-Review reports that Baker says test drilling shows mineralization richer than current deposits that in the third quarter produced more than 930,000 ounces of silver.

That output, combined with 1.8 million ounces of silver produced at the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska, made Hecla the largest silver producer in the United States.

Hecla had a third-quarter profit of $22.5 million.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesmanreview.com

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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