Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law
Florencia Heredia
Office:
Maipú 1300
11th Floor
C1006ACT
City:
Buenos Aires
Country:
Argentina
Tel:
+54 11 4318 9968
Fax:
+54 11 4318 9999

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Mining

Florencia Heredia is a partner of Allende & Brea, which she joined in August 2017. She is one of the most well-known experts in mining law with extensive experience advising financing institutions and companies in complex mining and energy transactions in Argentina, having repeatedly represented lenders in all mining project finance that has taken place in the country.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER SPECIALISING IN MINING?

As with many things in life that just happen, I never really thought at the beginning of my career that I would specialise in mining. I would say that I was at a certain time and place, and the opportunity just started to shape as I began working as a very junior lawyer in the sector. It was during the early 1990s that the first large investments for mining were arriving in Argentina. Since 1992 I have been increasingly working in the industry, and I am truly glad to have been involved in this practice area for such a long time.

YOU WERE FOUNDING PARTNER OF YOUR PREVIOUS FIRM HOLT ABOGADOS – WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF ESTABLISHING YOUR OWN FIRM?

Establishing a boutique law firm in Latin America is very challenging indeed since the economies of certain countries in the region, especially Argentina, are not always stable and would not allow for long-term planning. This notwithstanding, and despite the very difficult years my country experienced – especially towards foreign investments – I always managed to keep the confidence and trust of the clients and accompany them through cumbersome situations and complex transactions.

AFTER PRACTISING FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS AT YOUR OWN FIRM, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MOVE TO ALLENDE & BREA?

The main driver for my decision was the change of government and conditions for investments in Argentina. The country is regaining its position in the international arena and slowly starting to attract investments. The mining sector is certainly one that investors are looking at, which – as well as infrastructure – will lead to large investments. This situation requires comprehensive legal advice, including other areas of law, and a large reach that a boutique law firm may find difficult to meet. Allende & Brea, being one of the largest firms with long-standing international experience, is the perfect place to continue developing the mining sector in the new times of Argentina.

THE LAST DECADE OR SO HAS PROVED PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT FOR ARGENTINA, ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY. HOW DO YOU SEE THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEW ADMINISTRATION AFFECTING INVESTMENT INTO THE COUNTRY, AND PARTICULARLY THE NATURAL RESOURCES SECTOR?

As mentioned above, the new administration and consequent changes in the policies and regulations of the country are rebuilding the trust that the investment community needs to consider our country as an investment destination.

In such a scenario, the natural resources sector plays a very relevant role due to the wealth that Argentina has in many areas of the minerals, and oil and gas sectors, and in general good geographical and geopolitical conditions. There is much land still to be explored so the potential is really huge. These last few years have been very active in the lithium sector and it would be expected that with the arrival of major investments, our country plays a key role in the future of lithium extraction.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE CURRENTLY FACING LAWYERS IN THE ARGENTINEAN MINING SECTOR?

As in many other countries, lawyers face new challenges. A more comprehensive holistic approach would nowadays be required in order to make a project feasible, successful and effective in the long term. Addressing the views and needs of companies, communities and governments is a complex task and demands the interconnection of different areas of law and thorough analysis as well as a practical approach.

Argentina is no exception to this. Moreover, being a federal country with different provinces adds another degree of challenge for natural resources lawyers.

OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISK HAVE PLAYED MAJOR ROLES IN MINING PROJECTS. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BALANCE CLIENT DEMANDS WITH THIS INCREASED LEVEL OF SCRUTINY?

Social responsibility and environmental aspects are key in any mining project and addressing these issues early can guarantee the success of a project. Mining companies are aware of their relevance, and know that the legal assessment and treatment of these issues must be performed and monitored throughout the life of the project. There is increasing consciousness of these aspects and, therefore, of the resources that have to be deployed in order to work efficiently with communities and governments. Tailor-made advice is critical for these areas since they are totally dependent on the features of the project and its location.

HOW DO YOU ENVISAGE SOURCES OF FINANCING FOR MINING PROJECTS DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

Sources of financing have changed very much in recent years, especially due to the withdrawal of commercial banks from mining financing. Export agencies and end users have become more active – especially the latter – in lithium projects. This trend will continue evolving along this line and most probably also including Chinese agencies and banks.

YOU HAVE ACHIEVED A LOT IN YOUR CAREER AND STAND OUT AS ONE OF THE LEADING MINING PRACTITIONERS IN THE WORLD – WHAT CAN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY DO TO ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN TO REACH THE TOP LEVEL OF THE PROFESSION?

Even when much has changed and evolved in order to include more women in the legal profession, there are still not many holding decision-making positions in law firms or companies. I think this is just a matter of time; however, the legal industry should probably be more flexible and innovative as to working conditions, especially for young women lawyers, provided they are really committed to making a career and developing their practice according to the needs of the different industries. This certainly involves helping them to plan their careers, giving equal opportunities without any gender consideration.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER INDIVIDUALS WHO HOPE TO BE IN YOUR POSITION ONE DAY?

My advice would be to work very hard with values and principles, carefully watching the dynamics of the legal profession and the specific area of law and industry on which they would like to focus. I believe that being an expert in a certain area demands time and focus, though most relevant is building a reputation based on ethical values and principles.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Mining

Florencia Heredia is a partner of Allende & Brea, which she joined in August 2017. She is one of the most well-known experts in mining law with extensive experience advising financing institutions and companies in complex mining and energy transactions in Argentina, having repeatedly represented lenders in all mining project finance taken that has place in the country.

She obtained her law degree with honours (summa cum laude) from the Catholic University of Argentina in 1991 and obtained, also with honours (summa cum laude), a master’s degree in business law from Austral University in 1995. She has a degree with honours (summa cum laude) on corporate sustainability from IESC (Studies Institute for Corporate Sustainability). She has been researcher in the doctorate programme of Austral University on the areas of natural resources and environmental law.

She is the founder of HOLT Abogados (2008–2017), a natural resources boutique, and prior to that was a member of Estudio Beccar Varela for 16 years (1992–2008), where she led as partner in the natural resources and environmental law practice for nine years. In 1997, she worked for Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener (Beiten Burkhardt), one of the leading German law firms based in Munich with offices in other countries. She worked in the Moscow and Saint Petersburg offices, mainly in connection with energy, natural resources and environmental-related projects.

The principal focus of Florencia’s practice is natural resources, infrastructure, environmental law and finance law related to these areas. For more than 25 years she has been very active in assisting mining companies that have established in Argentina. She actively participated in the financing of the Bajo de la Alumbrera Project, the Cerro Vanguardia Project, and led the financing of the Veladero Project, these being all the major mining projects that have been financed in the country. She led the Trillium Project, which was a binational (Argentinean and Chilean) forestry project located in the Patagonia area. Among her many clients, she represented Rio Tinto for many years, especially in connection with the Potasio Rio Colorado project, then acquired by Vale. In recent years Florencia has oriented her practice towards the social aspects of the extractive industries as well and has been able to include these views in complex transactions and negotiations.

She is an active member of the International Bar Association. She held the position of chair of the mining law committee and is currently a council member of Seeril. She has been and currently is a trustee at large of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, for which she also served as secretary to the board 2014–2015, a member of IMPS (International Mining Professionals Society and of the International Women Forum (Argentinean Chapter) among other relevant entities. She is a member of the academic board of RADHEM in Argentina, publication that specialises in energy and natural resources.

She was visiting professor at Denver University, Colorado, USA, where she taught comparative Latin-American mining law on the environmental and natural resources law and policy graduate course directed by professor Don Smith. She has been professor at the School of Law for Public Officers in Argentina (Escuela de Abogados del Estado), where she taught the mining and environmental law course. She is currently professor at Austral University, Argentina, for the course pre-master's where she teaches mining law, and at the Catholic University of Cuyo, Argentina, for the masters in mining business management.

She has been constantly nominated by different publications as a leading mining lawyer, eg, the Latin Lawyer mining survey, and has been included in the lists of main mining lawyers of the world by Who’s Who editions in the last 10 years, being the recipient of the Mining Lawyer of the Year award for 2013, 2015, 2016 and one of the highlighted women in the Women in Law reviews. .

She has been listed by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 in Band 1 (also as a star individual) as one of the leading Argentinean natural resources lawyers for the past 15 years.

WWL says: "Mining specialist" Florencia Heredia enjoys "an excellent reputation" in the field, drawing effusive praise from international commentators who describe her as "incredibly intelligent".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Mining which can be purchased from our Shop.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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