Utah-based Alta Gold Co. and Hecla Mining Co. of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, have signed a letter of intent that could lead to discussions on joint ventures and mergers.

"Since Hecla Mining Co. and Alta Gold are both diversified, with precious metals and base metals properties, we have a natural bonding for the development of relationships which could significantly benefit both companies," said Alta Gold Chairman Dan Bushnell.Bushnell said the letter of intent with Hecla Mining does not affect Alta Gold's ongoing relationship with Magma Copper Co.

Magma Copper, with which Alta Gold recently signed a contract, is a copper producer headquartered in San Manuel, Ariz.