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Mining

Overview

Environmental and land use laws and regulations are complex and dynamic. Schwabe’s Natural Resources industry group helps mining and mineral concerns navigate these challenges.

We advise clients throughout the location, exploration, development, and production of metals, rocks, and minerals from public, private, and Native American lands.

Schwabe has a lengthy history representing the mining industry, from small single-mine operators to large international companies. Our team has assisted clients in obtaining state and federal approvals rights and approvals to mine, and has successfully defended those authorizations in high-profile legal challenges.

We have a broad range of experience encompassing mine permitting and land use and entitlement laws and regulations, water law, Native American and Alaska Native law, governmental leases and concessions, acquisition and disposition of mineral properties, and the financing of mine development and operations.

Our attorneys are working on or have recently worked on mining projects for aggregates, coal, gold, rare earth elements, blue clay, silver, cobalt, nickel, humate, and uranium.

Strong representation that runs deep

Well-versed in regulatory standards, we help our clients navigate the complex challenges of balancing the numerous laws and regulations impacting this sector with the issues critical to keeping mining operations moving, both above and below ground. 

We assist mining clients in understanding and complying with federal, state, and tribal environmental and natural resources regulation and public land laws, including:

  • Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), and state and tribal water and air quality regulations
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  • Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA)
  • General Mining Law of 1872 and similar state laws
  • Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act
  • Laws and regulations related to leasing and rights-of-way on public lands and Indian trust lands
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state environmental policy acts
  • National Historic Preservation Act
  • Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and state programs

Experience

  • Securing the water supply, obtaining land use approval, and coordinating state permitting for Oregon’s first new gold mining operation in decades.
  • Advising an Oregon mining company on the NEPA process, rights-of-way through Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, and coordination of Oregon laws and federal laws for mining projects.
  • Advising a mineral mining company on permitting on U.S. Forest Service property.
  • Defending federal permits and approvals for operation of a coal mine on Navajo land from third-party challenges in federal court.
  • Represented a large group of permit holders in comments on an environmental assessment, resulting in significant revisions and improvements to proposed permit renewal terms.
  • Assisting client with acquisition of four mines out of bankruptcy, including the due diligence on permitting, leasing, and taxation.
  • Worked with a client on strategy for permitting of a mine expansion.
  • Analyzed reclamation requirements to develop a strategy for coordinated reclamation, bond release, and land redevelopment as an alternative energy project.
  • Represented an Alaska mining company in legal challenges to proposed ballot initiatives that threatened to prevent mine development.
  • Represented a mining company in a dispute over ownership of Alaska mineral claims.
  • Represented an Alaska mining executive in defense of criminal charges under the Clean Water Act, obtaining acquittal on all felony counts after a jury trial in federal court.
  • Represented an Alaska mining company in resolving permit violations associated with water withdrawals to support an exploratory drilling program.

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