Global demand for mining products and raw materials is on the rise. But this growth has been matched by increased government oversight and stepped-up efforts by environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and plaintiffs' counsel to increase stringency of regulatory standards, block new projects or stall existing operations; and to pursue litigation relating to alleged environmental damage, toxic tort and similar claims in the United States and internationally.
Drawing on the same resources and experience at the foundation of the firm’s acclaimed energy and utilities practice, the mining industry team at Hunton & Williams LLP helps industry clients identify and mount sophisticated responses to the many legal and regulatory challenges they face domestically and abroad. For more than 30 years, our regulatory lawyers and seasoned litigators have represented domestic and international companies and industry associations throughout North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa engaged in the extraction and processing of a broad range of materials, including coal, phosphates, copper, zinc and other minerals. We also counsel mining enterprises and bulk chemical companies whose products — such as sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and ammonia — are key ingredients in the processing of ores, minerals and other natural resources such as crude oil and natural gas, and in the production of commodities critical to the global economy including energy generation, electronics & electrical transmission, and chemical fertilizers and crop protection products.
With an eye toward the long-term effects of each decision, we advise clients at every step of the product lifecycle, from mining and processing to distribution and marketing. In the area of permitting, for example, we help clients build a record capable of withstanding future challenges under a broad range of laws, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and related Bevill Amendment exemption, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or "Superfund"), and other regulations, treaties and standards impacting their domestic and international operations. We also help clients develop mitigation plans to minimize challenges and legal exposure related to their operations, projects and M&A transactions, and to ensure that well-intended but unnecessary information does not enter the record, where it may be used by opponents in litigation and appeals.
Import/export issues and legal exposure related to cross-border natural resource development or M&A activity also represent key areas of concern for this global industry. We provide comprehensive counsel on the full range of issues that affect the movement of materials across borders and overseas, from construction and permitting of processing facilities and distribution terminals to compliance with inland and coastal waterways protections. In the western United States, for example, we counsel clients on tribal law where operations and facilities are located on Indian lands. Internationally, we perform due diligence for large-scale development project and M&A transactions including assessing environmental and toxic tort legal exposure, interface with local counsel in foreign jurisdictions to pursue necessary governmental approvals, and defend any ensuing litigation or governmental enforcement proceedings related to such operations. Our environmental lawyers often work closely with the firm’s corporate and finance team to provide comprehensive transactional due diligence services, and to structure and negotiate the terms of M&A deals, project finance, debt finance and other lending transactions with banks, investors and creditors.
Hunton & Williams is ranked nationally as a Band 1 environmental practice by Chambers USA. When legal challenges arise, whether from counterparties, individuals, ENGOs, domestic or international plaintiffs’ counsel, state agencies and attorneys general, federal agencies or the US Department of Justice, we draw on our skilled trial and appellate lawyers, and a network of technical, governmental affairs, public and media relations experts and local counsel, to mount a strong defense of our clients’ interests. We have successfully argued cases in jurisdictions from coast to coast and at every level of federal and state trial and appellate courts, and assisted clients on projects and transactions across the globe.