Firms To Watch: Mining

The mining team at LNP Attorneys is chaired by Nikita Lalla and advises clients on the entire cycle of mining projects from inception to conclusion.

Mining in South Africa

ENSafrica

ENSafrica has an all-encompassing mining practice, advising a vast array of clients, especially large national and international mining houses, regarding dispute resolution proceedings, M&A transactions and related due diligence, regulatory and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters, and health and safety investigations and inquiries. Ntsiki Adonisi-Kgame now leads the core mining practice, after previous practice head Lloyd Christie left the firm in October 2021 to join Malan Scholes Attorneys; Pieter Colyn leads the health and safety department, and Willem le Roux is also a key practitioner in this area. Otsile Matlou handles the entirety of mining matters, including exploration, downscaling and closure.

Other key lawyers:

Willem le Roux; Otsile Matlou

Testimonials

‘The strength of the ENSafrica team lies in the calibre of people at the firm.’

‘They cover a broad spectrum of expertise which allows for the firm to be a “one-stop” facility dealing with a broad range of issues facing the mining sector, ranging from commercial advice, regulatory input (including dealing with relevant persons at the regulator’s offices), and maintaining excellent working relationships with internal stakeholders.’

‘In my view, the ability of the ENSafrica team to deal with the requirements of the company at different levels distinguishes it from other firms. In this regard, the members of the Mine and Occupational Health and Safety Department stands out. We have a long standing relationship with Willem le Roux and Pieter Colyn.’

‘Expertise in South African mining health and safety.’

‘What makes their practice is the manner in which they also seek out innovative ways to deal with complex legal issues. They also do this in the simplest and most user-friendly way possible.’

‘They are very pragmatic in how they consider issues and seek to resolve them for their clients. They do work for a wide range of clients (both local, in Africa and Asia) across various commodities (i.e. precious metals and base metals) which gives the team a sense of well-roundedness.’

‘ENS’s mining team is very diverse and has a good mix of young talented and seasoned lawyers. The interplay between various departments is also exceptional. You never feel as though the standard or quality has dropped in any way.’

‘Ntsiki Adonisi-Kgame is very smart, an incisive thinker who is well rounded, having many years of experience in mining, environmental and property laws. A good leader that knows who to pull into her matters where appropriate. Never compromises on product quality.’

Key clients

Lonsa Everite

Bushveld Minerals

Trafigura

Black Royalty Minerals

AngloGold Ashanti

Work highlights

  • Advising Bushveld Minerals Limited regarding a mining project as contemplated in section 11(3) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002.
  • Advised AngloGold Ashanti in launching interdict proceedings against local communities, the local municipality, a neighbouring mine in sabotaging its Vaal River Operations pending its disposal to Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited.

Webber Wentzel

At Webber Wentzel, the mining department forms a core part of the firm’s offering, with a large team of dedicated lawyers who spend a significant amount of time focused on the mining sector. Praised for its ‘deep mining-specific knowledge’, the practice is highly experienced across the entire mining lifecycle, including on M&A, regulatory issues, employment matters, and health and safety investigations. Additionally, it is increasingly active in ESG matters regarding the support of mining communities. The team is led by Jonathan Veeran and Rita Spalding in Johannesburg, supported by transactional specialist Manus Booysen, health and safety expert Kate Collier, and Bruce Dickinson, who is praised by clients as an ‘experienced, commercially minded lawyer.’  The team also underwent expansion with the addition of regulatory expert Giada Masina, and Lilia Franca, in February 2021.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Veeran; Rita Spalding

Testimonials

‘The team has a depth of expertise in their field and takes the time to understand the legal and commercial issues to give a good overall offering.’

‘The turnaround is always on time and the professionals concerned are always available.’

‘Notwithstanding that one is dealing with one of the largest law firms in the country, you are left feeling that the service given is intensely personalised to your company’s needs.’

‘The mining team has a diverse skill set, and I would not hesitate to use them for anything ranging from listings to discrete regulatory advice.’

‘The team’s strength lies in its deep mining specific knowledge – regulatory, commercial, and environmental, and the fact that it can rely on the greater Webber Wentzel ecosystem (particularly the projects and finance teams).’

‘The team is well plugged into the key issues and is incredibly responsive. The collaboration was exceptional within the mining team but also across the whole legal team.’

‘Huge amount of dedication and approachability.’

‘Bruce Dickinson is an experienced, commercially minded lawyer. Bruce’s value is that he is immensely practical, strategic and commercial. He marshals his team well, and he will deliver a client and value-focused outcome. I have no hesitation in recommending Bruce.’

Key clients

Africoal

Afrimat

Anglo American

Assore

Bauba Resources

Bushveld Minerals

Exxaro Resources

Fraser Alexander

Glencore

Gold Fields

Harmony Gold

Impala Platinum

Ivanplats

Khoemacau Copper Mining

Northam Platinum

Palabora Copper

Rio Tinto

Royal Bafokeng Platinum

SAIL Group

Sasol Mining

SepFluor

Sibanye-Stillwater

Siyanda Resources

TGME

Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining

Universal Coal

Vedanta Resources

Vergenoeg

Work highlights

  • Advised Anglo American in its internal reorganisation including the separation of Anglo Group’s South African “thermal coal” assets and business operations from the group’s remaining assets and subsequent disposal of the Armstrong Assets.
  • Advised Northam in relation to its intention to accelerate the maturity and wind-up of the empowerment transaction concluded between Northam and Zambezi Platinum Limited, and concluded a proposed extended empowerment transaction with an emphasis on participation by Northam group employees and host and affected communities, incorporating the acquisition by Northam Platinum Holdings Limited of all the shares in Northam.
  • Advised Africoal in relation to the negotiation, drafting and signature of a Contract Mining and Toll Washing Agreement with New Largo Coal.

Beech Veltman Inc

Boutique firm Beech Veltman Inc was established in 2020 as a spin-off from Eversheds (SA) Inc. (a member of Eversheds Sutherland). The group is highly adept at handling a wide range of mandates within the mining sector, including health and safety issues, environmental and regulatory matters, and dispute resolution, as well as handling M&A transactions and employment issues. Warren Beech leads the mining practice with the support of fellow founder Nicholas Veltman. Eben van Zyl is also notable in the health and safety space, and Melanie Hart joined the team from Fasken in April 2021.

Practice head(s):

Warren Beech

Key clients

Glencore Operations South Africa

Lonmin Group of Companies

Anglo American Platinum

Thungela Resources

South32 Group

Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mines

Gunvor Singapore PTE

Samancor Chrome Limited No

Sishen Iron Ore Company No

Sail Minerals

Bowmans

Bowmans has a strong reputation in corporate mining matters, but in addition to this, the team is also adept at handling regulatory, environmental, health and safety, and employment matters for a broad range of clients, including investors, financial institutions and government departments. Of recent note was the team’s representation of Harmony Gold Mining Company regarding its $300m acquisition of the Moab Khotsong and Great Noligwa mines from AngloGold Ashanti Limited. Corporate M&A lawyer Charles Young  is head of the department and is supported by Wandisile Mandlana and Claire Tucker who are skilled in regulatory and environmental mandates. Jason Wilkinson is a name to note for banking and finance matters.

Practice head(s):

Charles Young

Testimonials

‘The team is very responsive, adaptable and dependable. They go above and beyond when it comes to client matters and make all manner of sacrifices. From a diversity perspective, they excel.’

‘Bowmans’ best quality is its caliber of employees. I have worked with a number of departments and all of them have exceptional knowledge and skill.’

‘The mining industry requires in many instances “out of the box” thinking due to the legislative environment which could tend to slow down development. The team at Bowmans has the ability to apply this thinking and their advice is highly regarded by our company. You can trust their advice and know that your back is covered.’

‘During engagements (verbal or in writing) with some competitors I find our representatives to have better insight and the ability to identify risks and make trustworthy recommendations.’

‘Claire Tucker has gone out of her way to provide a professional service and render solutions and options to our challenges.’ 

‘Wandisile Mandlana is exceptional service personified. He is available 24/7 and produces top quality work. He works seamlessly with both technical and executive teams.’

Key clients

Acacia

African Rainbow Minerals

Anglo American

Anglo Gold Ashanti

Barrick Gold Corporation

Black Mountain Mining

De Beers Consolidated Mines

Harmony Gold Mining

Lanxess Chrome Mining

Lanxess

Merafe Resources

Orion Resources

Perenti Global

Puma Energy

Rio Tinto

Royal Bafokeng Platinum

South32

Sumitomo Metal Mining

Trafigura

Vedanta Zinc International

Work highlights

  • Advising Harmony Gold Mining Limited on its acquisition of AngloGold Ashanti Limited’s remaining operating assets in South Africa.
  • Advised Royal Bafokeng Platinum Limited on a transaction involving the sale and purchase of gold by Triple Flag Mining Finance Ltd.
  • Acted for Royal Bafokeng Platinum Limited on various matters.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a strong mining practice that is skilled at handling contractual, governance and regulatory mandates for both well-established companies and new market entrants. Health and safety matters, social and community issues and black economic empowerment, as well as environmental licensing applications are all strengths of the practice. Its strong relationship with the Department of Mineral Resources allows the practice to offer advice on legislative matters and it continues to advise on Mining Charter matters. Allan Reid heads the team, which includes mining disputes practitioner Fiona Leppan. In March 2021, M&A expert and former joint head of the corporate and commercial team at ENSafrica, Ian Hayes joined the firm, alongside Brian Jennings  who specialises in private equity transactions. Giada Masina and Lilia Franca left the firm in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Allan Reid

Testimonials

‘Experienced, good care and attention to detail, dedicated, prompt, good legal and industry connections, practical and excellent skill sets.’

‘Allan Reid is a great asset to our company.’

Key clients

Waterberg JV Resources

South32 SA Coal Holdings

South32 SA

ABSA Property Development

Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa

Public Investment Corporation

Platinum Group Metals

Sibanye Stillwater

Samancor Chrome

Harmony Gold

Kumba Iron Ore

Anglo American

Anglo Gold

Rustenburg Platinum Mines

ArcelorMittal

CAPM African Precious Metals

BHP Billiton South Africa

Jagersfontein Developments

Rooipoort Developments

Foskor

Glencore Operations South Africa

Village Main Reef

Rio Tinto plc

Tshiamiso Trust

Thungela Resources

Fasken

Fasken handles the mining matters of a wide range of clients, including junior and senior mineral exploration companies, financial institutions and industry service providers. The team is experienced in both domestic and cross-border mandates, having completed work in Angola, Botswana, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Its capabilities span M&A transactions, permitting, project development, employment mandates and corporate social responsibility. The team consists of corporate and commercial lawyer Dimitri Cavvadas, mining regulatory expert Godfrey Malesa and black economic empowerment and M&A specialist Stimela Mokoena. Paul Fouche has expertise in occupational and health and safety matters whilst Francois Joubert is acknowledged for his environmental experience.

Testimonials

‘The team are very thorough in their approach to legal issues that may arise.’

Key clients

Rockwell Diamonds

Thor Explorations

Eyesizwe RF

Zizwe Opencast Mining

Harmony Gold

Pilanesburg Platinum Mines

Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP

The mining practice at Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP, which is praised by clients for its ‘profound knowledge‘, is led by Africa chair Peter Leon and is active across sub-Saharan Africa. The group consists of lawyers who spend all their time focusing on the industry, and corporate, employment and environmental lawyers with mining expertise. The team handles transactional and continuous matters for its impressive list of clients, including multinational and domestic mining companies, communities, governmental departments, and which also now includes the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources. Corporate and regulatory lawyer Patrick Leyden is also of note in the mining sector, alongside newly promoted senior associate and environmental specialist Ernst Muller.

Practice head(s):

Peter Leon

Other key lawyers:

Patrick LeydenErnst Muller

Testimonials

‘I think that they have profound knowledge of the law as well as the mining environment and are able to create tailored, unique solutions to complex challenges in our organisation.’

‘They are very client-focused and committed to delivering quality and timely outputs.’

‘Their costing is fair and appropriate for the effort and output.’

‘HSF’s practice led by Peter Leon is unique in that it adopts an advocacy-based approach far beyond a black letter legal approach. This enables creative, swift and comprehensive decision making for clients which often brings about a favourable resolution. I can’t recommend them more highly.’

‘I work closely with Peter Leon and and Ernst Muller. They are both exceptional lawyers, and lovely people.’

‘Peter Leon and and Ernst Muller see solutions where others do not, and work tirelessly and in good humour to solve them.’

‘I have recommended them without hesitation to my own clients especially where they have existential problems that need particularly creative solutions. The best in the business.’

‘Patrick Leyden’s legal prowess coupled with his deep understanding of the mining sector is key to him delivering, sound, pragmatic solutions that protects both our legal position, our business environment and our socio-political relations.’

Key clients

Dr. Ahmed Al-Sgaih & Partners

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources

HDG Limited Mintails SA

Mintails Mining SA

Norilsk Nickel Africa

Motsitle Mining- Vlakfontein Site

Anglo American Plc Anglo American South Africa

Harmony Gold Mining Company

Sumitomo Corporation South Africa

China Molybdenum Company Limited

CIMIC Group Limited

POSCO Africa

Pala Resources

IARUDI

Schellshop Family

Metorex

Oryx Energies SA Oryx Oil Company

Shanta Gold

NPC Intercement

Work highlights

  • Advised the The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources on the full suite of Mining Investment Regulations and guidelines supporting the recently promulgated Mining Investment Law, 2020, which came into force on 1 January 2021.
  • Advised Harmony on to the acquisition of AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine and surface operations in South Africa for approximately $300m.
  • Represented NNM and NNA in appeal proceedings which were instituted under section 96 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 and two subsequent judicial review proceedings which arose from a Share Sale and Purchase Agreement between NNM and BCL Investments.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys caters to mining clients based in North America, Europe and Australia, in addition to South African mining houses and black economic empowerment mining companies. The team is adept at acting for clients in M&A transactions, health and safety matters, disputes and statutory and regulatory compliance mandates. It also advises on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002, the Mining Charter, black economic empowerment and environmental law and waste management. Chris Stevens is head of the practice and he is supported by director and financing expert David Gewer, transactional lawyer Steven Lochner and director and disputes lawyer Kathleen Louw, Director Athi Jara joined the team from Gwina Attorneys in March 2021.

Practice head(s):

Chris Stevens

Key clients

Glencore South Africa

Seriti Power

Samancor Chrome

Petra Diamonds

Gold Fields

Assmang Proprietary

Thungela Resources

Mbuyelo Coal

Tronox

ArcelorMittal

Assore

Rustenburg Platinum Mines

Samancor Manganese

Londani Coal

Sebilo Resources

Nkwe Platinum

Ntsimbintle Mining

Work highlights

  • Represented South 32 in a matter which involved High Court litigation against the DMR granting the refusal of mining rights.
  • Advised Andalusite Resources regarding the sale of its entire business to ARM Andalusite pursuant to the seller’s business rescue plan approving such sale.
  • Advised Oakwood Trading 21 on the disposal of its entire shareholding in Coza Mining.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg represents its clients across the entire mining life cycle. This includes handling M&A transactions, compliance and environmental finance matters and employment mandates. Darryl Bernstein is a notable name for mining-related disputes, whilst Kieran Whyte is a name to note for project development and financing. Wildu du Plessis  and Morné Van Der Merwe left the firm in 2021.

Other key lawyers:

Darryl BernsteinKieran Whyte

Key clients

FirstRand Bank

Nedbank

Absa Bank

Ninety One SA

Sibanye Gold

Sibanye Stillwater Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for FirstRand Bank Limited, Nedbank Limited, Absa Bank Limited and Ninety One SA Proprietary Limited in relation to revolving term loan facilities provided to Petra Diamonds Limited and its subsidiaries.
  • Advised Sibanye Gold and the Sibanye Stillwater Group in relation to the accession by the new holding company, Sibanye Stillwater, to various of the group’s existing financings as guarantor.
  • Advised Sibanye-Stillwater on the extension of the tenor of its existing $600m revolving credit facility agreement.

White & Case LLP

Gary Felthun and Matthew Burnell jointly sit at the helm of the mining group at White & Case LLP. The team handles the financing, environmental and regulatory needs of cross-border and domestic mining deals, as well as advising clients on transactions, restructurings and construction mandates. The practice is also increasingly active in the growing ESG space surrounding the sector; associate Tim van der Merwe, who joined the group in mid-2021 from Gunn Attorneys, is particularly skilled in this area. Debt financing lawyers Lionel Shawe and Sibusiso Zungu are also new additions from Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP, joining in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Gary FelthunMatthew Burnell

Testimonials

‘In addition to the team’s strong environmental law competence, the fact that the team structures their advice in a commercial and pragmatic manner greatly assists the company they are advising in that it is able to hold a holistic view of a transaction/matter instead of focusing on one aspect.’

‘White & Case has an excellent mining environmental legal team and I am very impressed by the commitment to the client and service excellence.’

‘Dr Matthew Burnell is conscientious, committed, very competent and he delivers outstanding work. He goes beyond the call of duty to assist and support us.’

‘Matthew Burnell is knowledgeable, hard working and thorough, engages with the detail.’

‘Matthew Burnell of White & Case is proficient in mining and environmental law, skilful and practised, friendly and easily contactable, pragmatic and open-minded.’

Key clients

Anglo Corporate Services

Anglo American plc

Black Royalty Minerals

Burgh Group Holdings

Samancor Chrome Limited

Gemfields Limited

Glencore plc

Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited

Kelltech Limited

Kopanang Gold Mining Company

MC Mining Limited

Pallinghurst Advisors LLP

Pelagic Resources

Sinosteel Group Corporation

Sedibelo Platinum Mines

Tau Lekoa Gold Mining Co

Tharisa Minerals

Village Main Reef

Work highlights

  • Represented Harmony Gold Mining Company in relation to its acquisition of AngloGold Ashanti’s remaining South African assets.
  • Represented Black Royalty Minerals on its successful bid process to acquire all of the assets of Koornfontein Mines.
  • Represented the bondholders of Petra Diamond in respect of its proposed capital restructuring.