Empire Mine State Historical Park
Environmental Cleanup Communications
Grass Valley, Calif.
Located in Grass Valley, Calif., the Empire Mine was the oldest and most productive gold mine in the state. As with many of the mines in California’s gold country, mining and milling operations at the Empire Mine left behind a mixture of arsenic, lead, cadmium, cyanide and mercury. The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) required California State Parks to conduct a Preliminary Endangerment Assessment (PEA) at the site.
California State Parks and the environmental group, Baykeeper, settled a lawsuit that required certain steps be made to address potential historic mining and milling operations effects on local waterways. As a result, California State Parks and Newmont USA Ltd. initiated a series of work plans to evaluate environmental conditions and cleanup activities related to the historic mining and milling activities.
Sigler Communications' Role
Newmont retained Sigler Communications to provide strategic counsel and planning support as it announced the joint work to be conducted to the community, NGOs, community leaders, news media and other interested stakeholders. We announced the cleanup partnership between Newmont and California State Parks as well as remediation measures under regulator approved work plans. We developed an initial communications strategy that targeted residents within a one-mile radius of the Empire Mine Park.
We prepared and trained staff to conduct informational briefings with state park employees and docents to prepare them to be gatekeepers of information. We prepared visitor cards providing park visitors with information on areas that would be temporarily closed for cleanup measures. In addition, we conducted a press conference/media tour, showcasing the environmental work planned at the facility for the construction season. Sigler also worked with the project management team to prepare for and conduct one-on-one briefings with key NGOs and California legislators whose district included the Empire Mine. The goal was to provide them with an overview of the planned work and to create a platform for ongoing dialogue.
By taking a unified approach to public education and involvement, technical work has proceeded at Empire Mine without NGO or public opposition. Newmont and California State Parks have exceeded their regulatory requirements for communications and have received positive feedback for their proactive communications approach. To date, the site’s lack of public concern has aided the technical work’s completion on time and under budget.