In a 1970 internal report on the Lakeview Mining District by Sunshine Mining and Refining, Chief Geologist Don C. Long, writes: “This property’s geologic location, past production and numerous indications together with its inadequately tested mineralization clearly establishes its potential for renewed production.” The report included a detailed exploration plan that was never implemented. Shoshone Silver Mining intends to test Long’s theory. The company has built a land package in preparation for being the first company to explore the District as a whole.Shoshone controls the bulk of the Lakeview District, with 1100 acres covering the Lakeview Mine and Mill, the Weber, Keep Cool, Talache, Auxer and the nearby Regal Mines.
History of the Lakeview District
Historical mining in the Lakeview District dates from the 1880’s, typically conducted by now defunct smaller mining companies working small, isolated mines. While some companies engaged in exploration prior to, or in conjunction with, production, many simply mined. Because only limited exploration was conducted in the Lakeview District, and the fact that many companies operating in the area folded during the 1970’s when metal prices were depressed, historic exploration data is extremely limited.
Although most operators in the Lakeview District held only single mines, Sunshine Mining and Refining developed an interest in the Lakeview area in the 1960’s. In the wake of the devastating Sunshine Mine fire in 1972 and with historically low silver prices, Sunshine Mining abandoned the Lakeview District.
Irvin Scheller, Shoshone’s founder and a former employee of Sunshine Mining, believed there was great but unproven potential in the Lakeview District. Due to Mr. Scheller’s efforts, Shoshone obtained its initial Lakeview holdings from Sunshine Mining.
Shoshone mined the Keep Cool and Weber in the early 1980’s, driving 400 feet of workings in the Keep Cool and conducting surface operations at both mines. The company conducted extensive exploration in the district during this time. Following the collapse of silver prices, Shoshone ceased production in the district.
Past Production from Shoshone’s Lakeview District Properties
Over the years, Shoshone’s Lakeview District properties have been held by a wide variety of mostly small mining companies, with ownership of each changing a number of times. As a result, production records from properties in the district are incomplete. Victoria Mitchell, a staff geologist with the Idaho Geological Survey, compiled production records from publicly available sources. The results of this compilation are given in the table.
Geology of the Lakeview District
Less well-known than its sister, the Coeur d’Alene Mining District in Idaho’s Silver Valley, the Lakeview District is underlain by the Belt Supergroup, the same geologic formation that gives rise to the famous Sunshine, Bunker Hill, Lucky Friday and Star Mines. The principal ore minerals of the Lakeview District are galena and tetrahedrite, both associated with silver mineralization. Sphalerite and chalcopyrite are less abundant minerals except at the Keep Cool Mine, where sphalerite is the most abundant.
Mineralization in the Lakeview occurs in shear zones, very closely spaced semi-parallel faults. Historical assaying of drill cores focused on veins of the same type found in Silver Valley mines, which are typically found on the edges of the shears. No records exist indicating sampling of the shears themselves. Mining was ordinarily confined to hanging walls and foot walls with the shears left in place.
The Lakeview Mill is an on-site, 100 tons, expandable to 350 tons a day, flotation mill that produced concentrates from ore obtained from Shoshone’s mining operations from the 1970’s into the early 1990’s.
Shoshone’s Lakeview District ball mill is rated at 100 tons per day. Shoshone now processes stockpiled silver ore with this ball mill. Shoshone also has on site a 250 ton per day ball mill. The mill building can easily be expanded to accommodate the use of the larger ball mill. There is room as well to install additional flotation cells to process the increased volume of crushed ore from the larger ball mill. Shoshone makes silver concentrates in its Lakeview mill for sale to a smelter for refining. Future plans call for the expansion of the mill as discussed above to increase the output of silver concentrates.
Shoshone began refurbishing the Lakeview mill in 2006 as the first step towards returning to production in the Lakeview District. Mill upgrades included a complete electrical overhaul, a rebuilt ore chute, an upgraded office, and living quarters complete with their own well. In early 2007, inspection of the mill site showed that major equipment was operational and general cleaning, maintenance, and upgrades were finished before the mill was put into operation. In the fall 2007 a new site for the mill’s self-contained water management system was located, excavated, and subsequently put into use. All upgrades suggested by MSHA have been completed. After updating and upgrading of the mill Shoshone has operated it on a year round basis.
Idaho Lakeview Mine
The Lakeview Mine is the most extensively developed of Shoshone’s Lakeview District properties, with six main levels reaching a depth of 1400 feet. Vein material is encountered at each mine level and with ore grades generally improving with depth. The Lakeview Mine was developed along the Hewer Shear.
In 1924, the Venezwela group of claims was taken over by the Hewer Mining Company and became what is now known as the Lakeview Mine. An internal shaft was eventually sunk to the 1400 ft. level and between 1923 and 1943, the Lakeview mine produced 24,500 tons of ore.
Current area near the Idaho Lakeview portal
Sunshine Mining became interested in the district in 1962, and signed an agreement with Idaho-Lakeview Mines, the successor to Hewer Mining Company, acquiring a 50% interest in the Keep Cool and Idaho Lakeview Mines. The combined properties became the Lakeview Consolidated Silver Mines, Inc. Sunshine conducted assessment work on the properties, including surface excavations, drill holes and underground work. In 1978, a bulldozer trenching discovered another surface zone of mineralization 2,000 ft. northeast of the Weber Pit. It exposed a vein 10-12 ft. wide and 135 ft. long. This vein was mined during the early 1980’s.
Shoshone’s Weber Mine
Initial discoveries of mineralization in the Lakeview District were made in 1888 near the site of the Weber Mine. The Weber, known at one time as the New Rainbow Mine, lies on the Weber Shear, which also hosts the Keep Cool Mine.
Three levels were developed in the underground mine. The main level was developed along the footwall and hanging wall along strike with the shear zone. The shear itself was untouched. Limited development was done on the shear in the two additional levels.
Development was shifted to surface mining operations following the development of the underground mine. In 1978, a bulldozer trenching discovered a second surface zone of mineralization 2,000 ft. northeast of the original pit. It exposed a vein 10-12 ft. wide and 135 ft. long. This vein was mined during the early 1980’s.
Shoshone Silver Mining completed an exploratory Diamond drill program in the Fall of 2008.
The Keep Cool Mine
The Keep Cool Mine lies atop the Weber Shear and has been explored by 5 adits and 3,000 feet of tunneling. In 1987, Shoshone rehabilitated the Keep Cool Mine, and drove 200 ft. of new workings towards a vein drilled by Sunshine Mining Company in 1970. Keep Cool was most recently operated as a surface mine by Shoshone in the early 1980’s.
In a 1994 report prepared for Shoshone, Professional Geologist Rod Clelland estimated that ore mined from the Keep Cool carried values of 5.45 opt silver, 3.1% lead and 7.7% zinc. Production records from the Keep Cool indicate it is predominantly a lead-zinc mine with associated silver and copper, carrying a high ratio of base to precious metals than other mines in the District.
Talache Claim Group
The Lucky Joe is a gold-silver property located in Bonner County, ID. The property includes the upper levels of the historic Talache Mine, as well as about 1,500 feet of the Little Joe Vein (the mineralization source at Talache), including its surface exposure. The Talache Claim Group covers 40 acres.
The first claims were staked in the area in the early 1890’s. In 1922, the Talache Mine was developed and production was initiated, continuing until late 1926. Although no accurate record exists of total production, the Talache Mine produced silver and some gold, lead, and copper. Zinc, although present, was not recovered. The operation may have ceased due to the decreasing silver price and the fact that the mineralized zone was found to extend off of the Talache property along strike.
In 1964, the Silver Butte Mining Co. was formed to explore the Talache area, and approximately 2,300 feet of drifting and cross-cutting along with 2,400 feet of diamond drilling were carried out approximately 1 mile to the north of the current Lucky Joe claims. Cominco American, Inc. leased the property from Silver Butte and Imperial Silver in 1969. Cominco held the properties through 1971 and completed approximately 5,000 feet of diamond drilling. Subsequently all claims were dropped.
The Auxer mine is a formerly producing precious metals mine located in Bonner County, ID. The Auxer Gold Prospect covers 40 acres, including the workings of the historic Auxer Gold Mine.
E. U. Philbrick staked the main Auxer claims in 1905. In 1925, the Auxer Gold Mines was organized, and by 1933 most of the Auxer claims were deeded to Auxer Gold Mines. In 1968, Auxer Gold Mines, Inc. was purchased by Spokane National Mines, Inc. The property was sold to Idora Silver Mines, Inc. in 1972, which later relinquished its interest. Ashington Mining Company staked two claims in 1999. In September 2003, Shoshone Silver Mining Company acquired the property from Ashington Mining Company.