Latham & Watkins helps all types of mining industry participants navigate legal and regulatory requirements as well as to resolve environmental, regulatory, and commercial disputes that arise around the globe.

Fueling Business Success

Latham lawyers advise on the ever-evolving regulatory landscape for mineral development to support clients’ large-scale transactions, projects, and commercial priorities. From financing new mine development or expansions, to permitting and regulatory compliance strategies, through to enforcement, and dispute resolution — both litigation and arbitration — Latham helps clients solve their mining business issues in the US, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, Australia, and Asia. Latham has particular experience advising clients with respect to potential environmental liabilities, including those for historic mining operations under the US Superfund law.

The firm regularly advises clients active in all aspects of the mining industry, including companies, lenders, private equity investors, master limited partnerships, sovereigns, mineral owners, and financial participants.

Delivering Regulatory Insight

Latham draws on an extensive understanding of the front end of the regulatory process, as many of the practice lawyers are active in the legislative and regulatory development of energy and environmental law at the state, national, and international levels. Latham’s environment and energy practice includes former senior government officials from relevant US agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of the Interior, and the US Department of Justice. Latham’s ability to provide support on mining projects stands second-to-none.
Lawyers in the practice collaborate to advise on the full spectrum of mining-specific and more general environmental laws and regulations that clients frequently encounter, including:

  • Air and climate change laws
  • Cultural resource laws 
  • Equator Principles
  • IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability
  • Laws protecting and enacted by  indigenous peoples including mineral development on US American Indian lands
  • Mining safety laws
  • Offshore natural resource development laws
  • River basin commission compacts
  • State and local siting laws
  • US National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and international and state analogues requiring development of environmental impact assessments
  • Water discharge, supply, and quality laws
  • Wildlife laws
Project Finance Capabilities

Latham provides clients market-leading advice on worldwide project finance and development. The firm has represented sponsors, lenders, export credit agencies, multi-lateral lending institutions, government entities and other clients in over 1000 projects in more than 70 countries. Drawing on experience in the mining sector and a sophisticated understanding of the drivers of project finance, Latham regularly advises project developers and lenders on complex financings, including; early identification of critical path issues, advice on due diligence processes, efficient development of the suite of financing documentation; and pro-active advice on loan negotiation.

Leveraging a Powerful Combination on Disputes

Latham provides clients comprehensive strategic advice, including managing stakeholders and opposition, by drawing on both the firm’s market-leading regulatory and disputes practices. For example, Latham works not only to obtain the necessary mining-related permits and authorizations, but also to anticipate challenges and develop the record necessary to defend approvals in court.

When disputes arise, Latham combines intimate knowledge of the industry with the skills of market-leading litigators and international arbitration practitioners to handle the full range of the most complex commercial disputes, including:

  • Regulatory proceedings and consultation with stakeholders, regulators, and political bodies
  • Environmental counseling and litigation
  • Litigation, arbitration, and international dispute resolution, including border investment contract, treaty disputes, and multi-party actions with private parties and sovereigns 
  • Enforcement proceedings, audits, self-reporting, and compliance matters
  • Accident and disaster litigation
  • Complex commercial disputes including “take-or-pay” contracts, joint venture arrangements, and master limited partnership deals
Drawing on Deep Experience

Latham has long-standing experience advising mining industry clients. Representative recent matters include:

  • Represented a mining company on the successful environmental review, authorization, and development of a new phosphate mine in the western US. The mine required a Bureau of Land Management lease modification, approval of the proposed mine plan of operations, and a US Army Corps Section 404 individual permit. Work included National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, environmental permitting, as well as government relations.
  • Represented a utility in the NEPA review for the renewal of a coal-fired power plant lease and rights-of-way, and the associated mine-to-mouth coal mine located on the Navajo Nation in the Southwest US
  • Latham regularly represents financial institutions in mining-related financings, project finance, and debt offerings, including those for coal companies in the US and internationally
  • Advised a major mineral exploration and production company on the environmental aspects of mining-related mergers and acquisitions of nearly US$18 billion and successfully defeated follow-on shareholder litigation
  • Successfully represented a mining company in enforcement proceedings and litigation regarding contamination caused by historical activities at one of the largest gold mines to have operated in the US that had subsequently been purchased by a state park department
  • Represented a consortium of financial institution creditors in a hard rock mining, smelting, and refining company’s bankruptcy. Latham provided litigation support, due diligence, and regulatory counseling associated with environmental claims and issues related to more than 75 former and current mine and smelting sites in the then-largest US environmental bankruptcy in history (as of 2009).
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