The Law Reviews

The Mining Law Review

Edition 5

Published: December 2016Contents


Editor's Q&A

i) What are the hot topics?

The mining industry is trying to weather what has become an inordinately long down cycle. Things will pick up when world growth accelerates or when demand once again outstrips supply. The latter should happen sooner rather than later. Current reserves are being depleted, very few new mines are being commissioned and exploration has been greatly curtailed. But at this point in the cycle, when no end is in sight, the hot topics are those linked to survival: (1) the search for additional sources of financing; (2) operational efficiency, including greater use of technology; and (3) the orderly reduction of supply, particularly in China. These are the topics that first come to mind.  Only the best will survive and the race is on to be the producer with the lowest cost.

ii) Tell us about key legal developments – recent or pending – and their international impact.

Good governance, transparency, social license, ‘know your client’, and more recently ‘tell what you pay’ are concepts now commonly accepted and applied in the world’s major mining financial centres. This means that there is greater disclosure of the business and affairs of mining companies. It also means that there is greater scrutiny. Stakeholders have the information necessary to challenge governments and mining companies, question the social acceptability of projects and demand greater revenue sharing at the local level.

iii) What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for practioners and clients?

The relentless search for financing is the greatest challenge for clients, and practioners must continuously come up with commercial and tax structures that meet the legitimate needs of financiers, including relatively new market entrants such as streaming and revenue financiers. A close second is the increasing length and complexity of the process to site, build and commission mines. The perfect regulatory process is one that allows all stakeholders to be truly heard and to benefit from a project while providing the mining company with some certainty as to the credibility, outcome and timing of the process. Regretably, precious few jurisdictions have put in place such a balanced and efficient process.  




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