Mining 2018: Analysis

Who’s Who Legal: Mining 2018 sees 434 pre-eminent mining lawyers from 231 law firms worldwide highlighted for their expertise in the field. The individuals included in this edition are the leading lights in the mining market, boasting proficiency across a range of specialisations, from dirt law and exploration to M&A and corporate financing.

The practitioners highlighted this year are spread across 61 jurisdictions, with those based in North America demonstrating a particularly strong presence. Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright remains the leading firm in the mining sector according to our research, with 17 top-tier practitioners from five continents recognised. International business and litigation firm Fasken is another heavyweight in the mining sector, dominating our listings in Canada as well as achieving multiple nominations in England and South Africa. Multinational firm Gowling WLG also ranks highly this year, along with ENSafrica, which achieves listings in South Africa, Namibia and Mauritius.

North America

Thought Leaders
1. Michael Bourassa Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Toronto
2. Darrell Podowski Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Vancouver
3. Cynthia Urda Kassis Shearman & Sterling LLP, New York
4. Christopher Baldwin Lawson Lundell LLP, Vancouver
5. Roger Taplin McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Vancouver
6. Joel Benson Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, Denver
7. Erik Goldsilver Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Toronto
8. Robert Bassett Holland & Hart LLP, Denver
9. Charles LK Higgins Pilot Law LLP, Toronto
10. Brian Abraham QC Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver
The Thought Leaders are those individuals who received the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources this year. Our research has identified them as truly outstanding practitioners and the very best in their field.

Leading Firms

Who's Who Legal does not list law firms, only individual lawyers. The leading firms are those in each region whose listed practitioners received the most total nominations in our research.

With listed practitioners spread across three continents, FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN is a dominant force in the mining sector. It remains the top firm in Canada, with 11 leading individuals highlighted this year.
Michael Bourassa is indisputably at the forefront of the Canadian market, with one impressed source describing him as “the best lawyer in mining”. His practice encompasses a wide range of sector-related matters from due diligence to environmental risk.
John Turner is “a famous guy” in the international dirt law space, who draws widespread acclaim thanks to his extensive transactional experience.
Paul Fornazzari receives worldwide endorsements from sources who commend his strong corporate background. He is highlighted for his superb negotiating skills when securing mining agreements.
Josh Lewis is a highly regarded practitioner with a well-established mining practice. He impresses market sources with his impressive expertise handling M&A transactions, alternative financing and project development and exploration.
“First-rate mining lawyer” Tanneke Heersche is a leading authority on mining project development in emerging markets. She also boasts extensive experience handling high-value cross-border investments in the natural resources sector.
Alison Lacy is an experienced mining specialist who is renowned for her “excellent knowledge” of all aspects of the procurement, development and financing of international mining projects.

CASSELS BROCK & BLACKWELL is internationally recognised as a pioneering firm in this space, having one of the largest mining groups in Canada. This year our research has identified eight standout practitioners.  
Darrell Podowski is a firm favourite among clients who praise his strong industry-relevant experience. He is internationally well regarded for his “excellent knowledge of financing in the sector”.
Mark  Bennett is a distinguished practitioner with a wealth of experience representing international and Canadian mining groups in complex cross-border matters.
Paul Stein is a long-standing expert in mining law who advises domestic and international mining clients in a range of matters including financing, acquisitions and corporate reorganisations.
Jay Goldman is a leading individual in the natural resources sector who impresses clients with his expert handling of related corporate matters.

GOWLING WLG is well known for its first-rate global mining practice. In Canada, seven leading mining experts have been highlighted by our research.
France Tenaille “has an excellent knowledge of the sector” and draws praise for her “business-oriented and very practical approach”.
The “excellent” Cyndi Laval boasts a wealth of experience advising major companies in the natural resources sector on corporate finance and M&A activities.
Brett Kagetsu has more than 20 years’ experience dealing with M&A and financing matters and regularly provides related counsel to a wide array of mining companies.

Top Canadian business law firm BLAKE CASSELS & GRAYDON achieves six nominations this year from across Canada and the US.
Andrew McLeod has built up an impressive corporate practice earning him a reputation as a transactional expert in the natural resources space.
Bob Wooder stands out as “a real star in the region” according to sources. His strong M&A and corporate finance expertise makes him a popular choice for high-profile deals.
Charles Kazaz enjoys an excellent reputation in the market thanks to his strong background advising major mining companies on a range of matters including acquisitions, regulatory compliance and mineral rights concerns.

DAVIS GRAHAM & STUBBS boasts four listings from its Colorado office this year.
The “brilliant” Joel Benson receives widespread endorsements thanks to his comprehensive experience handling acquisition transactions, project development and joint ventures for mining companies.
Randall Hubbard is widely recognised for his strong domestic practice and is considered “one of the most prominent players in the Colorado market” by one commentator.

Full-service law firm BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS sees two of its practitioners listed.
Erik Goldsilver is commended by sources who praise his extensive experience acting for international and domestic mining companies in a range of ventures.
Fred Pletcher boasts a strong mining practice and “really stands out in the market” according to impressed commentators.

Other Leading Individuals

We highlight individuals at other firms who also scored very highly in our research.


Christopher Baldwin at LAWSON LUNDELL is “held in high esteem” thanks to his extensive experience in the financing, development and operation of mining projects around the world.

The “excellent” Roger Taplin at MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT is a renowned expert, most notably when it comes to M&A transactions in the mining sector.

Brian Abraham QC at DENTONS CANADA is “a figurehead in the mining sector” according to sources, with one remarking: “What he doesn’t know about mining licences isn't worth knowing.”

With more than 25 years’ experience, Jay Kellerman at STIKEMAN ELLIOTT is a long-standing fixture in the market. He comes “highly recommended” thanks to his extensive M&A experience.
Ivan Grbesic is a “highly recommended” mining M&A and securities specialist who is frequently involved in cross-border mining transactions.

Michael Melanson at BENNETT JONES regularly represents international mining companies in high-value deals and receives worldwide endorsements for his strong transactional expertise.

Alan Hutchison at OSLER HOSKIN & HARCOURT is “exceptional” according to sources, who consider him a top name in the corporate finance sphere.

INDEPENDENT PRACTITIONER Eden Oliver is a key figure in the Canadian mining market and is well known for her strong corporate experience.

The “outstanding” Charles Higgins at PILOT LAW is a long-standing fixture in the market who receives praise from international commentators for his expertise in mine acquisition and joint venture transactions.


Cynthia Urda Kassis at SHEARMAN & STERLING is “very well known” in the international marketplace thanks to her outstanding expertise in project finance and joint venture transactions.

Robert Bassett of HOLLAND & HART is a prominent name in the mining industry whose broad practice covers a wide array of sector-related matters, from dirt law to financings.

James Cress at BRYAN CAVE is a greatly respected practitioner with a wealth of experience handling major mining transactions. He is “the best royalty lawyer in the country”, according to one impressed source.

Top-rated environmental expert John Fognani at HAYNES AND BOONE is a key figure in the market who stands out for his top-tier work across the mining sector. 

Latin America

Thought Leaders
1. Florencia Heredia Allende & Brea, Buenos Aires
2. Rafael Vergara Carey, Santiago
3. Pablo Mir Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados, Santiago
4. Leonardo Rodriguez Marval O'Farrell & Mairal, Buenos Aires
5. Luis Lucero Marval O’Farrell & Mairal, Buenos Aires
6. Carlos Pérez-Cotapos Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos & Cia, Santiago
7. Carlos Vilhena Pinheiro Neto Advogados, Brasilia
8. Juan Paulo Bambach Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría, Santiago
9. Fernando Aguirre Bufete Aguirre Soc Civ, La Paz
10. Ignacio Randle Estudio Randle, Buenos Aires
11. Oscar Benavides Rodrigo Elías & Medrano Abogados, Lima

Leading Firms

Leading Chilean firm CAREY is well known for its strong mining offering and sees five top practitioners highlighted this year.
“Excellent lawyer” Rafael Vergara tops our rankings in Chile and is recognised by the international community as “one of the strongest mining practitioners in the world”.
Juan Francisco Mackenna comes “highly recommended” thanks to his tremendous understanding of sector-related regulatory matters.
Francisco Corona is “exceptional” according to sources, who regard him highly thanks to his “extensive knowledge of the sector”.

Top Ibero-American law firm PHILIPPI PRIETOCARRIZOSA FERRERO DU & URÍA boasts four listings this year from across its offices in Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Juan Paulo Bambach stands out as “an excellent mining lawyer”, who is considered “top tier” when it comes to getting deals through, thanks to his “proactive and engaged” approach to negotiations.
María Paz Pulgar is “a rising star” who impresses sources across the board with her fantastic work across the mining, and energy and natural resources sectors.
Ricardo Harten wins high praise from a wide range of international peers, one of whom describes him as “a real gentleman and a pleasure to work with”.
Sandra Manrique is held in high regard by peers, who praise her for her strong expertise in the mining and natural resources sector.

MARVAL O'FARRELL & MAIRAL is one of the most prominent firms in Argentina and sees three leading practitioners nominated for inclusion this year.
Leonardo Rodriguez is a key name at the firm and is considered “one of the best mining lawyers to be found in Argentina” by one impressed respondent.
The “extremely knowledgeable” Luis Lucero possesses more than 20 years’ experience in the mining sector and is internationally recognised for his “intelligent, experienced and meticulous approach to tackling high-stake projects”.
Andres Villarreal impresses market sources with his deep knowledge of the mining industry as well as his client-focused approach.

Brazilian business law firm VEIRANO ADVOGADOS also achieves three listings.
Pedro Aguiar de Freitas is a “highly recommended” practitioner who impresses peers with his “high-level capabilities” when it comes to mining-related transactions.
Pedro Garcia is widely recognised for his vast experience in the mining and infrastructure sectors. He is a favourite among international sources who value his impeccable knowledge of the sector.
Carlos Americo Ferraz e Castro is a prominent figure in the international mining community thanks to his impressive experience handling related contractual, corporate and regulatory matters.

Peruvian outfit RODRIGO ELÍAS & MEDRANO ABOGADOS sees three leading practitioners recognised.
Oscar Benavides is a strong client favourite who combines “fast, practical advice with clear and helpful analysis”. One impressed source effuses: “We can always depend on him to ensure that our interests are protected.”
Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado is recommended for his depth of expertise in the field. He is a seasoned adviser who regularly advises mining companies on project finance, M&A and legal stability agreements.

Chilean boutique firm QUINZIO & CIA achieves two listings this year.  
Cristian Quinzio is “a big name in the mining space” who is recognised as a leading name in the field. One impressed source notes, “He is excellent at handling mining contracts.”
Marcelo Olivares enjoys a superb reputation in the market as “an excellent lawyer” who is highly sought after by clients for his strong contractual expertise.

Independent, full-service firm PINHEIRO NETO ADVOGADOS sees two top Brazilian mining specialists highlighted.
The “fantastic” Carlos Vilhena heads up the firm’s mining practice and is highly regarded thanks to his exceptional grasp of exploration, financing and regulatory issues.
Adriano Drummond Trindade is “a fantastic practitioner” who receives widespread acclaim for his extensive experience handling a wide range of mining-related corporate matters.

Other Leading Individuals


“Mining specialist” Florencia Heredia at ALLENDE & BREA enjoys “an excellent reputation” in the field, drawing effusive praise from international commentators who regard her as “incredibly intelligent”.

Ignacio Randle at ESTUDIO RANDLE is a leading lawyer who is “highly recommended” by sources thanks to his vast experience handling complex financings and cross-border transactions.

The “excellent” Hernan Miguel Zaballa at ZABALLA CARCHIO ABOGADOS is a prominent figure in the mining space and stands out as “one of the best in the field” according to commentators.

Roberto Fortunati of ESTUDIO BECCAR VARELA possesses extensive experience handling project finance and M&A matters for many prominent clients in the mining industry.


Fernando Aguirre at BUFETE AGUIRRE SOC CIV is a highly sought-after expert who boasts a wealth of experience assisting mining companies with regulatory matters.

Ramiro Guevara at GUEVARA & GUTIERREZ is “an active player in the mining space” who draws praise from across Latin America thanks to his comprehensive experience in financing and M&A.                                                                                                                    


“Top-tier mining lawyer” Pablo Mir at BOFILL MIR & ALVAREZ JANA ABOGADOS boasts extensive experience advising mining companies and investment banks on major projects across Latin America. Sources describe him as “an excellent businessman who is one of the main guys in the Chilean mining world”. 

Carlos Pérez-Cotapos of CARIOLA DÍEZ PÉREZ-COTAPOS & CIA is “one of the main players in Chile” thanks to his impeccable knowledge of mining law. His solid grounding in corporate law means he is “particularly strong when it comes to transactional work”.
Gonzalo Grez has a strong corporate background and is described as “a major player in the market”. He is also recognised as a “dependable and fair arbitrator”.

Jerónimo Carcelén Pacheco at CARCELÉN DESMADRYL GUZMÁN & TAPIA is “one to watch” thanks to his “specialised knowledge of the mining sector”. One source comments that he has “a great understanding of mining law across different jurisdictions”.

Patricia Núñez at NÚÑEZ MUÑOZ & CÍA is “the star player in the Chilean mining sector”. She has a strong reputation in the market for her expert handling of major mining projects in the region.

Antonio Ortúzar Jr at BAKER MCKENZIE is “a strong practitioner” who is well respected by peers. One impressed source remarks that he is “excellent at dealing with international clients”.

Jorge Granic at LARRAÍN Y ASOCIADOS ABOGADOS is a top name, recommended for his “immeasurable expertise in financing”. He frequently acts as counsel for large mining and electricity companies.


Francisco Urrutia at POSSE HERRERA RUIZ is a respected practitioner who boasts a wealth of experience handling complex M&A transactions in the mining space.

Jorge Neher at NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT is a major player in the Latin American mining market, with vast experience advising junior and major mining companies on transactional and regulatory matters.


Cesar Zumarraga at TOBAR ZVS SPINGARN is “highly experienced in the mining sector” and has a strong reputation as a leading practitioner in the Ecuadorian market.

Jaime Zaldumbide at PÉREZ BUSTAMANTE & PONCE is highly regarded for his expertise in matters related to environmental regulation. One source effuses: “He is a commercially oriented, business-focused attorney with a deep knowledge of the mining sector.”

Rodrigo Borja Calisto at LEXIM ABOGADOS is a “very reliable and professional” practitioner whose expertise spans all aspects of the mining industry. One impressed source effuses, “He is the rising star in the market.”


With more than 30 years’ experience, Xennia Forno Castro Pozo at RUBIO LEGUÍA NORMAND is a long-standing fixture in the market who is highly sought after thanks to her “sharp mind when it comes to regulatory matters”.

Cecilia Gonzáles of CMS GRAU is an internationally well-regarded practitioner known for her extensive experience handling international mining contracts.

Fernando Pickmann at GALLO BARRIOS PICKMANN ABOGADOS is a prominent player in the Peruvian mining market, garnering widespread acclaim for his broad financing expertise.

Rest of the World

Thought Leaders
1. Ian Coles Mayer Brown LLP, London
2. Peter Leon Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP, Johannesburg
3. Geoff Simpson Allen & Overy LLP, Perth
4. Thomas Wexler Fasken Martineau LLP, London
5. Manus Booysen Webber Wentzel, Johannesburg

Leading Firms

ENSAFRICA is the leading firm in the African market this year according to our research, with 11 pre-eminent practitioners highlighted.
Lloyd Christie is a mining and environmental law specialist who impresses commentators with his exceptional regulatory expertise.
Patrick Cronin is widely recognised for the depth of his expertise in the mining sector. With more than 45 years’ experience, he is a true authority in the space.
Otsile Matlou is also recommended for his extensive experience in the sector. He handles a broad range of disposals and restructurings, joint venture deals and equity and asset acquisitions among other matters.
Pieter Colyn is internationally renowned as a leading name in the region, and stands out for his impeccable knowledge of mining and occupational health and safety law.
Corporate specialist Wolf Wohlers is highly rated for his comprehensive understanding of complex transactions for clients across the mining and petroleum industries.

Global law firm NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT performs well across the board, achieving an impressive 11 listings from offices across Australia, England, France, Kazakhstan, Russia and South Africa.
Michael Dale is a clear leader in the field with more than 30 years’ experience in the mining and energy sectors. He is “the top mining lawyer in South Africa” according to one impressed peer.
Martin McCann receives plaudits for his comprehensive experience in the sector, most notably when it comes to financing and cross-border transactions.
Yerzhan Kumarov leads the firm’s Central Asian natural resources practice and is widely considered to be an expert on financing and regulatory matters.
“Standout practitioner” Mark Bankes is a top name, recommended for his extensive transactional experience across the mining and energy sectors.
Levon Kocharyan is a big name in the Russian market who is particularly highly regarded for his proficiency with the corporate structuring of mining and energy projects.

HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS boasts eight listings this year from across its Australian, English, French and South African offices.
Peter Leon is “famous in the mining space”, earning accolades from sources as “a regulatory expert”. He is highly regarded among clients, who are impressed by his “knowledge, credibility and ability to provide tailored solutions”.
Stéphane Brabant is “highly recommended” by international sources thanks to his deep knowledge of the African market, and is often called upon to assist in the implementation of large-scale projects.
The “excellent” Bertrand Montembault stands out in francophone Africa’s mining sphere, drawing praise for his transactional expertise. Sources are quick to highlight his “superb ability to come up with practical solutions to complex problems”.
Jay Leary is a well-known figure in the international marketplace who is particularly highly regarded for his exceptional dealmaking abilities.

MAYER BROWN is recognised for its strong global mining practice. This year five pre-eminent mining experts based in the firm’s London office are highlighted.
The “outstanding” Ian Coles is a true market leader, drawing widespread international acclaim. He consistently impresses clients with his “significant international experience”.
Tom Eldridge is commended for his “deep knowledge of the mining industry”. Through his “awareness of legal issues and the commercial environment”, he is always able to effectively assist his clients in complex negotiations.
Rachel Speight has “an excellent understanding of the project finance and mining finance business” according to sources. She is highly sought after thanks to her “excellent sector knowledge and vast experience”.

CLAYTON UTZ once again tops our listings in Australia, achieving five nominations.
Stuart MacGregor is praised by international commentators for his outstanding knowledge of M&A, joint ventures and regulation within the natural resources sector.
Brett Cohen is well known for his corporate expertise which makes him stand out when it comes to advising Australian and international corporations on complex M&A transactions in the mining sector.
The “technically brilliant” Mark Geritz consistently impresses market commentators with “the depth of his knowledge” as well as his “ability to provide excellent strategic advice”.

Leading South African law firm WEBBER WENTZEL also boasts a strong presence in the market with four listings.
Leading name Manus Booysen boasts more than 32 years’ experience and is “highly rated” by sources thanks to his comprehensive experience in the transactional and regulatory aspects of mining law.
Rita Spalding is well known for her “thorough knowledge and experience of the South African mining law”. She is highly regarded among peers and clients alike, who are “impressed by her knowledge, diligence and practicality”.

Other Leading Individuals


ALLEN & OVERY’s global mining head Geoff Simpson has an “excellent reputation” in the market and ranks in our research as one of the top mining lawyers in Australia.

Michael Blakiston at GILBERT + TOBIN is internationally renowned as a specialist in mining law and is particularly well known for advising clients involved in mining projects in Africa.

Igor Bogdanich at ALLENS has experience in the financing, development and operation of mining projects and regarded as “a leader at the firm” by impressed commentators.

The “excellent” Heath Lewis at KING & WOOD MALLESONS is a leading M&A specialist who is highly recommended for his extensive experience securing deals in in the mining sector.


Audrey Chen at JUNHE tops our rankings in China thanks to her extensive experience in the energy and natural resources sector. She is particularly sought after for her impressive technical know-how and strong international outlook.


The “outstanding” Thomas Wexler at FASKEN MARTINEAU is one of our highest-rated mining lawyers, drawing praise from international commentators with his extensive experience handling international transactions in the mining, oil and gas, and energy sectors.

Andrew Wright at GOWLING WLG boasts decades of experience in the resources sector. He is a distinguished practitioner who is particularly skilled when it comes to coordinating multi-jurisdictional transactions.

David Glennie at BLAKE CASSELS & GRAYDON is a leading light in the natural resources arena, impressing commentators with his extensive experience handling mining-related international mergers and acquisitions, and corporate financing.


Casper Herler at leading Finnish law firm BORENIUS ATTORNEYS is a prominent figure in the mining sector who regularly advises domestic and foreign companies on a range of mining and exploration matters.


“Pre-eminent French mining lawyer” Thierry Lauriol at JEANTET AARPI is internationally recognised for his extensive knowledge of the mining, energy and natural resources sectors.                                                                                                                                      


Ana Elizabeth Bastida at THE UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE is a seasoned adviser who commands respect in the international mining community. She is often called upon to advise governments and companies on sustainable development in the mining sector.


Barry Irwin at ALLEN & OVERY is “an excellent lawyer” who boasts vast experience in the energy and resources sector. He regularly advises prominent clients throughout the Asia-Pacific region on a variety of complex cross-border transactions.

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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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