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Mining Industry

The mining industry is subject to the volatility of global markets and the inherent risks of exploration and development. Moreover, the regulatory burden on U.S. mining has increased, and, together with other factors, is causing companies to streamline operations, improve operational efficiencies, invest in new technology, and restructure, merge and acquire competitors . As environmental and other regulatory pressures intensify, cost-effective compliance is essential.

Because Venable has been advising mining industry clients for decades, we understand the challenges they face. Our attorneys offer a broad array of legal services to a variety of players within the industry, tapping into the extensive experience of our many practice areas, including:

  • Environmental law
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Labor and employment
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Bankruptcy and debt restructuring
  • Real estate and land use
  • Contracting
  • Patent protection
  • Energy
  • Investigations and white collar defense
  • Legislative and government affairs
  • State and local government
  • Technology transactions and outsourcing

One of our key strengths is environmental law for mining companies. Combining decades of government and private practice experience, our team regularly works with all of the major environmental programs relating to mine development, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the application of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Bevill exclusion to mining operations.

Our attorneys have represented private sector clients engaged in permitting gold, copper, nickel, phosphate, rare element and uranium mines. Our experience runs the gamut of relevant issues that arise in the course of permitting major mines, and Venable is typically hired in the early stages of large projects to work closely with applicants and their technical consultants to:

  • Ensure that a thoroughly defensible record is made of design/engineering alternatives, anticipated impacts, related mitigation, and other key considerations;
  • Advise on strategic decisions (often driven by applicable legal standards) that will define the critical path and schedule for NEPA review, environmental permitting, or other required regulatory review/approvals;
  • Foster proactive communication and coordination among the reviewing/permitting agencies (and stakeholders) to maximize buy-in and minimize surprises late in the game; and
  • Consult on historic preservation, tribal treaties and issues of cultural and religious significance, and wetlands and endangered species permitting.

We are proficient in the intensive inter-agency coordination that occurs as part of environmental review and permitting for complex mining projects. In addition, we are skilled in helping clients to manage the large teams of consultants who provide engineering and resource expertise with regard to the various environments affected by such large, complex projects.

Venable's environmental mining group includes two prior Environmental Section Chiefs from the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, the former Lead Counsel for the District of Columbia Department of the Environment, the former Lead Counsel for the Maryland Department of the Environment, and a former Coast Guard Enforcement Attorney. Our attorneys are regularly invited to present courses and publish on issues of NEPA, CWA, CAA, NHPA, ESA, RCRA and other environmental programs. In addition, a number of our attorneys have participated (by invitation only) in working sessions of the White House initiative to streamline the NEPA review and environmental permitting processes.


  • Gold Mine

    Served as lead federal permitting and NEPA counsel to a gold mine company for a 4500+-acre gold mine site, and provided counsel on state and local environmental review and permitting. The project involved direct impacts on some 120 acres of wetlands and 5 miles of streams (and numerous cultural/historic impact sites), and required negotiation of an integrated landscape/watershed scale mitigation plan to compensate for wetland/stream impacts, enhance protection of endangered Carolina heelsplitter mussel habitat, and conserve lands with valued cultural/historic resources.
  • Copper-Nickel Mine

    Serving as lead counsel for federal permitting and environmental review of a proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. In this capacity, Venable is advising its client on numerous issues, including NEPA review, CWA Section 404 permitting, and NHPA Section 106 review. Venable’s team is coordinating with numerous environmental consultants, in addition to working closely with the USACE, EPA and USDA Forest Service. This work includes negotiating with the USDA Forest Service to obtain a land swap.
  • Phosphate Mine

    Venable represented a phosphate mining client that prefers to remain confidential regarding compliance with NEPA. The project includes development of an area-wide EIS and multiple CWA permits. The client is complying with the ESA, NHPA, and many other federal and state programs in conjunction with its environmental impact statement. The project carried a threat of litigation from environmental groups.

  • Rare Earth Mineral Mine

    Venable advises a rare earth minerals company regarding compliance with the NHPA and Section 106. This work includes consulting with the USACE, the USDA Forest Service and numerous tribes to develop site surveys and assess cultural sites, including traditional cultural properties.

  • Uranium Mines

    Venable advises several ISR uranium mining companies regarding compliance with the NHPA and Section 106. This work includes consulting with the NRC, BLM, and numerous tribes to develop site surveys and assess cultural sites, including traditional cultural properties, and formulating MOAs and PAs using innovative drafting techniques such as live webinars.

  • National Mining Association

    Venable assists NMA on a variety of legal issues, including work on amicus briefs in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. U.S. EPA and Alaska Community Action on Toxics v. Aurora Energy, and in commenting upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft Section 106 Guidance.

  • Southeast Alaska Conservation Council v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, No. 05-cv-00012 (D. Alaska/9th Cir/S. Ct.)

    Venable represented the owner of the Kensington Gold Mine in a challenge to the project's EIS and issuance of a CWA Section 404 permit by several national environmental groups. The District Court granted summary judgment in our client's favor. Although the Ninth Circuit reversed the judgment, the U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed the validity of the permit. The permit was reinstated by the USACE after our submittal of extensive comments on behalf of our client and in spite of continuing opposition of environmental groups and the EPA.