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Mining Industry Services

Client and Industry Challenges

Businesses and individuals involved in the mining industry regularly confront an array of legal and business issues that range from day-to-day personnel and operating concerns to complex regulation and litigation matters. Policies and procedures pertaining to hazardous materials, land preservation, air and water quality, the protection of endangered species, mine safety and health concerns require mining industry leaders to stay vigilant with regard to compliance and violation management.

Snell & Wilmer has a long history as a mining law firm, providing quality legal counsel to clients in the mining industry. Our mining industry attorneys provide comprehensive services relating to the financing and development of projects involving the exploration, extraction, processing, transportation and sale of non-ferrous and precious metals, coal and other minerals. We strive to develop a deep understanding of our clients’ business goals and operations to develop tailored, efficient and cost-effective compliance strategies and legal solutions.

Areas of Service

As a full-service mining law firm, we have the breadth and depth of experience necessary to handle the needs of any mining enterprise. Our services include:

  • Acquisition and disposition of mine properties
  • Mineral title examination, opinions and curatives
  • Royalty agreements and disputes
  • Mining leases and joint-venture agreements
  • Split-estate and surface use conflicts
  • Regulatory compliance assistance
  • Appeals of enforcement actions, fines and penalties
  • Obtain and defend permits for mining operations
  • Public and private financing
  • Public land law
  • Environmental and natural resources law
  • Native American law
  • Endangered species concerns
  • Historic and cultural resource clearances
  • Climate change issues
  • Litigation
  • Water resources and strategy
  • MSHA compliance and citation contesting

Clients We Serve

Our mining industry clients include quarries, mines, investors, landowners and third party mining-related businesses. Our clients include multinational mining corporations, TSX-listed junior mining companies, and domestic exploration and development companies.

Why Clients Select Us

Time-Tested, Results-Oriented Service: Drawing upon decades of legal experience and strong technical backgrounds, our attorneys have helped bring some of the toughest mining projects in the Southwest to fruition within the last 10 years.  We understand the issues involved with heavily contested mining projects and have defended our clients against challenges brought by environmental organizations while also assisting them in complying with all federal, state and local regulations.

Recognized and Invested: Several of our attorneys have been recognized by the Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of mining law and environmental law. Members of our group are also active board members and general members of industry groups like the National Mining Association, the Arizona Mining Association, the Utah Mining Association, the Society of Mining Engineers, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute.

Experience

Our mining industry services representative matters include:

  • Represented mine operators in mining permitting process and the defense of certain permits against challenges brought by environmental groups
  • Performed multiple due diligence reviews for potential purchasers of various mine operations (including copper, gold, coal, uranium and potash) including but not limited to review of all environmental and regulatory permits, ESA issues, mineral title, fee land title, easements, rights-of-way, water rights and supply, air quality, water quality, royalty obligations and other issues relating to mining operations
  • Negotiated and drafted mine acquisition agreements
  • Negotiated and drafted joint venture and royalty interest agreements
  • Assisting mine operators with mine permitting on private, state and federal lands
  • Advised mine operator in environmental impact statement and lease-by-application for proposed surface coal mining on federal lands
  • Advising and defending mine operators regarding MSHA
  • Assisted operator in negotiation of coal supply agreement with a major utility
  • Represented mine operator in obtaining necessary permits for Greenfields underground coal mine
  • Defended challenges to validity of federal coal leases and permits in Tenth Circuit against challenges brought by environmental groups
  • Assisted various mine operators with negotiations to obtain state and federal right-of-ways for access to mining operations
  • Negotiating and resolving 404 permit issues with Army Corps of Engineers for mineral properties
  • Defended rights-of-way and environmental assessment before IBLA from challenges related to effects on lands with wilderness characteristics
  • Represented mine operator in administrative and judicial appeals of permit renewal brought by environmental groups raising climate change, environmental justice, and endangered species issues
  • Appealed royalty determinations by MMS (now ONRR) to Interior Board of Land Appeals
  • Evaluated and recommended options for maintaining and extending federal coal leases on behalf of temporarily inactive mine
  • Represented mine operators in appealing enforcement actions related to alleged violations of state surface mining and reclamation standards
  • Assisted mine operators in easement acquisition, leasing and cooperative agreements to relocate surface facilities in advance of mine expansion
  • Assisted client with acquiring and transferring lithium placer claims
  • Assisted mining claim owner with "claim-jumping" dispute involving former partner
  • Advised mining industry association on issues related to conflicts between agricultural water users and mine operators in light of changing state water policies
  • Representing and advising mining company in Arizona water adjudications as well the enforcement of a federal water decree in Arizona
  • Negotiating and drafting settlement agreements between mining company and Indian Tribes in Arizona requiring the drafting and passage of both state and federal legislation
  • Represented mining company at trial and on appeal before Utah Supreme Court in case involving surface and groundwater rights, quiet title and forfeiture claims