Worker at San Juan Silver Project
Worker at San Juan Silver Project Hecla Mining

Hecla Mining Company (NYES:HL) turned to a profit in the fourth-quarter supported by lower costs and higher metals prices. Hecla's shares jumped seven percent in early Tuesday morning trading before trending down slightly.

The biggest U.S. silver producer reported net income of $18.6 million, or seven cents a share, compared with a loss of $9.73 million, or five cents a share, a year ago. That fell in line with Wall Street analysts' estimates.

Revenue fell 23.5 percent to $102.9 million from the year-ago quarter, but topped analysts' expectation of $98.8 million.

General and administrative costs were down 35 percent in the quarter.

Hecla faced significant challenges in 2011, said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., CEO at Hecla. However, what is different today than at any other time in our history is that our financial position, asset base, and growth opportunities are the strongest they have ever been.

Metals prices continued to increase significantly in 2011 compared to 2010. While the realized silver prices in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 3 percent less than that in the same period in 2010, the twelve-month period realized prices were 56 percent higher, Hecla said.

Silver production at Greens Creek rose five percent in the quarter, while that at Hecla's Lucky Friday mine fell 37 percent. In January, the Lucky Friday mine at Idaho was ordered shut by federal regulators after three accidents.

Hecla reiterates its 2012 silver production estimate of about seven million ounces, excluding production from the Lucky Friday mine. Production at the Lucky Friday mine is expected to resume in early 2013.

The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based company also announced plans to invest about $90 million in its Greek Creek mine in Alaska in 2012.

Shares of Hecla Mining Company (NYES:HL) climbed to $5.30 in Tuesday morning. The stock has slumped 50 percent in the past twelve months.