I am pleased to have participated in the preparation of the eighth edition of The Mining Law Review. The Review is designed to be a practical, business-focused 'year in review' analysis of recent changes, developments and their effects, and a look forward at expected trends.
This book gathers the views of leading mining practitioners from around the world and I warmly thank all the authors for their work and insights.
The first part of the book is divided into 20 chapters, each dealing with mining in a particular jurisdiction. These countries were selected because of the importance of mining to their economies and to ensure a broad geographical representation. Mining is global but the business of financing mining exploration, development and – to a lesser extent – production is concentrated in a few countries, Canada and the United Kingdom being dominant. As a result, the second part of the book has three chapters that focus on financing.
The advantage of a comparative work is that knowledge of the law and developments and trends in one jurisdiction may assist those in other jurisdictions. Although the chapters are laid out uniformly for ease of comparison, each author had complete discretion as to content and emphasis.
At the time of writing, world macro-economic conditions remain generally good for the mining industry as a whole. Economic growth continues, albeit at a slower pace, and the demand for minerals is steady, even rising in the case of precious metals and rare earths. But will this Goldilocks scenario continue?
The world appears to have entered an environment where well-established economic laws no longer apply. Rising private debt and government deficits, negative or miniscule interest rates in all time scales, low inflation bordering on deflation, lower unemployment levels in many economies, all appear to coexist amiably without adverse consequences. This runs counter to economic orthodoxy and more and more experts question aloud whether this is sustainable.
Gold and other precious metals have greatly benefited from this novel economic environment and are experiencing a renaissance as a hedge against the unknown. This in turn has led to some headline-grabbing M&A activity among major gold miners as they seek to replenish reserves.
Trade frictions have also played a role in improving circumstances for some minerals. For example, China has implied that exports of its rare earths could be curtailed for non-economic reasons, leaving the US, Japan and Europe to take inventory of discovered resources and funding new exploration.
All this to say that the mining industry is likely to be affected unevenly as the next 12 months unfold.
As you consult this book, you will find more on topics apposite to jurisdictions of specific interest to you, and I hope you will find the book useful and responsive.
Erik Richer La Flèche
Stikeman Elliott LLP