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
- Patent protection
- 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
- 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 interagency 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.