Florencia Heredia is a stellar practitioner with significant expertise in mining law. Sources calling her “a top mining lawyer who is well known in the USA”. She has an excellent track record representing major clients in transactional matters and is consistently rated as one of the world’s top mining lawyers.
Florencia Heredia is a senior partner of Allende & Brea, where she heads the natural resources and energy practice. She is an expert in natural resources matters, including forestry, fisheries and in particular mining law with 28 years’ 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 place in the country. She is an active member of the International Bar Association, where she held the position of chair of the Mining Law Committee (2014–2015), is currently a council member of SEERIL and became vice chair of the section in 2021, which oversees all related committees.
How has your practice evolved since the start of your career?
When I look back and see my 28 years of experience, I can see that I have been very fortunate to work in very different environments and times in the energy and natural resources sector. This fact has given me extensive experience, especially in connection with political, economic and social aspects of the countries which influence investments in the extractives sector. In summary, my practice has become much more than just the technical legal knowledge, being also oriented to become a real “translator” of the local environment for my clients.
How does your role on the board of directors of Galaxy Lithium, and on the firm’s executive committee complement your practice?
I see these different roles as if I am wearing different hats in different moments though being in essence the same lawyer. The role of a director in a mining company involves having a comprehensive knowledge of the industry, trends and changes in all aspects of the sector while the role on the firm’s executive committee has to do with governance in a very different industry which relate to legal services. These roles provide for different perspectives in different markets and industries. In my case, I combine my extensive experience in the mining sector with my continuing 20 years as partner in law firms in the evolving legal market.
To what extent are you seeing a transition in the energy sector towards battery and tech minerals, and how will this affect the mining industry?
There is no doubt that there is a transition in the energy sector and that battery minerals and/or critical minerals - to use a broader term - will play an extremely relevant role. The world is being reshaped in many ways, and the trend towards a low-carbon future is a fact which could be accelerated given the current situation of the pandemic and changes that will follow in a new world context. In this regard, the mining industry will become more essential than ever, and actually all minerals - copper, gold, lithium, etc - will be more necessary in this new world.
How do you imagine the geopolitical landscape and coronavirus pandemic will affect the natural resources sector?
As mentioned above, the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate certain trends and changes. The energy transition towards a low-carbon economy will be affected and probably accelerated. In such a context, the role of China will be crucial. The electric vehicle market growth can be mostly driven by Asian consumers. US, Canada and Australia will also play extremely relevant roles in such geopolitical landscape and currently these countries are reviewing their policies in connection with critical minerals and the immediate future.
What other short-term and long-term effects do you see covid-19 having in your practice and the mining industry more broadly?
In my view the covid-19 pandemic effects will mainly be a consolidation and acceleration of already existing trends. However, impacts may differ depending the region and probably in this sense Latinamerica and Africa will be more impacted than other parts of the world, or to be more precise, economic recovery in these regions which already have high degrees of poverty will take more time.
In this regard, the mining industry will be impacted as many other industries. It is likely that a period of consolidation of assets may follow, there will be companies, especially the majors, looking for assets in distress and also to increase reserves in minerals that will be necessary for the world.
What more should be done to increase diversity and inclusion in the energy and natural resources sector?
There is already an increasing trend by investors and regulators to promote more inclusive and diverse board of directors in the extractives companies. There is also an ongoing change of culture aiming to achieve these goals though this will take some time. As a board member, and as a lawyer, I take this responsibility very seriously and try to work in such direction to promote these principles in all senses.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I have already acted a few times as expert witness in cases that considered difficult legal matters linked to mining properties or agreements. I would like to explore the field of international arbitration related to energy and natural resources matters given my experience after so many years of practice. It will be an interesting and long journey since I will need to learn how to work in that area and also get to know the environment. I always find it challenging to start new paths and never stop learning.
Is there any advice that you would give to younger lawyers hoping to one day be in your position?
I would strongly advise that any area of law that they choose or end up practising should be an area about which they are passionate. I believe that if you really like what you do, you will do it in the best way possible and achieve the highest degree of success. I have always practised law with passion and full dedication and I am very thankful for that.