Energy & Natural Resources: Mining: South Africa
THE FIRM This firm's multifaceted mining offering includes renowned expertise in regulatory work. The group's representation of Kumba Iron Ore in contractual disputes with ArcelorMittal demonstrates its ability to link mining regulatory expertise with skills in litigation. The commercial department leads transactional work in the sector, and advised Exxaro Resources on the merger of its mineral sands operations with the businesses of Tronox. The financing team also frequently acts for banking clients on project and acquisition financings.
Sources say: "A strong legal firm with a good reputation." "Customer service is excellent – they are very accommodating and the advice is practical."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Dale is one of the top mining regulatory lawyers in South Africa. Clients give glowing praise for his expertise in this field, with one saying: "He's absolutely brilliant – he taught me everything I know and all our big matters go straight to him."
THE FIRM Webber Wentzel has a well-respected mining team with a broad base of experience. The firm provides transactional, regulatory and operational advice to an impressive roster of mining companies, including high-profile names such as De Beers and BHP Billiton. Anglo American is another key client and retains the team in a range of matters, including Project Alchemy, a ZAR3.5 billion community economic empowerment transaction. Other areas of expertise include the construction aspects of projects and health and safety issues.
Sources say: "They're very hard-working, detail-oriented people." "All of the people are highly qualified, I enjoy working with them, and the turnaround is good."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources identify Manus Booysen as an excellent mining rights lawyer. Clients appreciate the technical experience he brings to their mandates: "He's got a lot of depth of skill and knowledge, and is very good in negotiations."
Bruce Dickinson is noted for his strong commercial mining practice. He has advised Vale on several matters, including its bid to buy South African mining company Metorex.
Peter Leon is head of the firm's Africa mining and energy projects group, and a prominent figure in the market. Practice highlights include taking the lead in regulatory advice to clients such as Gold Fields.
According to commentators, Rita Spalding is "a highly accomplished draftsperson with a good grasp of both legal and technical concepts."
THE FIRM This firm bolstered its already impressive presence in the South African mining arena by merging with Bell Dewar in February 2013. The team now combines highly respected domestic experience with an international perspective, and can offer expert guidance in projects within South Africa and across the wider region. Practice highlights include advising Vale on transactional and project development matters, including the Konkola North copper project in Zambia. The group also has extensive experience in acting for Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) investors on their acquisitions.
Sources say: "It's very strong on the mining side and also has knowledge of projects work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients are enthusiastic about their experience of working with Tanneke Heersche, noting: "She has an unbelievably good understanding of business and the commercial rationale of transactions." She also offers a range of expertise in Canadian legal issues.
Andrew Mitchell is highly respected by peers for his knowledge of mining law and finance matters.
THE FIRM Despite the loss of Chris Stevens in April 2012, this boutique firm maintains a strong offering in the mining arena. Mining rights applications and transactions are a significant area of practice, and the team also advises on BEE legislation. Highlights include advising South African clients on cross-border M&A deals.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Catherine Keene is head of the mining team. She has valuable experience in commercial matters and is commended for her impressive client service.
THE FIRM Werksmans represents a number of high-profile mining clients in both transactional and dispute matters. M&A highlights include advising Glencore International on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Namibia-based Rosh Pinah Zinc. The team also represented Shanduka Resources in the disposal of all of its interest in Assore for around ZAR2.7 billion. The firm's workload is further rounded out by a number of regulatory and commercial matters.
Sources say: "Focused an d pragmatic individuals with exactly the approach we are looking for."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chris Stevens is a sought-after regulatory lawyer who has been a distinct asset to the firm since his arrival in April 2012. "He is one of the top specialists in mining law in South Africa. He is commercially very strong and very practical in problem solving."
THE FIRM Bowman Gilfillan acts for numerous mining clients, including major multinationals such as Rio Tinto, Metorex and Eurasian Natural Resources. Its workload comprises commercial matters and transactions, and the team advised the Shanduka Group and various selling shareholders on China Investment's purchase of a 25% stake in Shanduka. A variety of work for Northam Platinum includes advice on the sale of mineral rights, and on the development of its Booysendal platinum mine project.
Sources say: "Approachable in their relationship management – if we need something done, people work all hours."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Legh is a key contact for mining, energy and natural resources matters.
THE FIRM Transactional matters, disputes and rights issues all form part of this firm's workload. Notable mandates include advising Village Main Reef on its disposal of 19% of the entire issued share capital of First Uranium to Anglo Gold Ashanti. The team also represented Metorex in several matters, including the competitive bidding process leading to its acquisition by Jinchuan Group. In contentious work, the firm acted for a local mining company on its opposition to a Department of Mineral Resources grant of prospecting rights to a third party.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Allan Reid has a strong reputation as an expert in technical issues, and is respected by peers for his prominence in the mining arena.
THE FIRM This team offers a variety of services to long-established mining names and newer entrants to the market. Areas of focus include M&A, mining rights applications, health and safety matters and regulatory compliance. Natural resources experts work in collaboration with other teams at the firm to provide one-stop representation in dispute resolution, environmental issues and tax matters.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The head of the practice group is Otsile Matlou, who is highly regarded for his work on mining rights: "He has an in-depth knowledge of mining law and lots of practical experience."
THE FIRM Peers have a high regard for the strength of this practice, which attracts high-profile clients including major local and international mining houses and financiers. Its workload comprises M&A deals and BEE transactions, as well as mineral rights issues. The team also handles a range of contentious work in the field.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Hulme Scholes is the standout figure at the firm. Peers identify him as one of the top mining lawyers in the country, and he advises a number of long-standing clients.
Previously at Werksmans Attorneys and Dewey & LeBoeuf, Morné van der Merwe
now practises at Baker & McKenzie. His mining experience is widely respected, especially for commercial and corporate matters.
of Brink Falcon Hume Inc receives recommendation for his commercial awareness and high-quality client service. He is qualified in both South Africa and Australia, and worked for three years at an Australian firm before joining Brink Falcon Hume.
moved from Webber Wentzel in autumn 2012, and now advises clients at Routledge Modise. He is a renowned expert in the health and safety aspects of mining operations, and receives enthusiastic feedback from his clients, who say he "is available on short notice, gives very sound advice and is able to lead in stressful situations."
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