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Crisis communications for Sherritt International Corporation

NATIONAL Public Relations was engaged to support and manage the day-to-day communication requirements for Sherritt International Corporation, the owners of an Alberta mine where a containment pond was breached.

The breach of an onsite water containment pond occurred at the Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton on October 31, 2013. The release consisted of approximately 670,000 cubic metres of process water, containing water mixed with naturally occurring materials, mainly clay, mud, shale and coal fines.

This large breach resulted in significant volumes of process water exiting the mine site into nearby creeks and the Athabasca River.

In addition to the communication support, NATIONAL also helped with the activities of Sherritt’s external consultants, and government relations and aboriginal consultation. NATIONAL took the lead on media relations and stakeholder activities and staffed mine sites and corporate offices with communication personnel to handle day-to-day communication issues. Four NATIONAL consultants worked at various locations around the province, including the mine site and key communities down-river from the release site. NATIONAL provided strategic, logistical, and management support.

The success of the program, and Sherritt’s efforts, are best articulated by its stakeholders who have consistently stated that Sherritt responded with respect and concern for the issue, the clean-up and the stakeholders.