Mining 2019: Analysis

In our latest edition of WWL: Mining, we feature 434 of the top mining practitioners in the world, across 61 different countries and 229 law firms. Those included in this edition have been selected for their excellence in a broad range of mining matters, including financing, environmental regulation, exploration projects, royalty agreements and indigenisation issues.


The Global Elite 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.

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.


North America

Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Cynthia Urda Kassis Shearman & Sterling LLP, New York
2. Michael J Bourassa Fasken, Toronto
3. Jay C Kellerman Stikeman Elliott LLP, Toronto
4. Christopher G Baldwin Lawson Lundell LLP, Vancouver
5. Joel Benson Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, Denver
6. Darrell W Podowski Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Vancouver
7. Roger Taplin McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Vancouver
8. Brian Abraham QC Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver
9. Fred R Pletcher Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Vancouver

Leading Firms


This prominent Canadian firm emerges as the leading firm in the North American market, with an impressive total of 10 listings.
Michael Bourassa is a standout practitioner in the mining market who is a “definite inclusion” and “highly recommended” by sources. He focuses on advising mining clients on public financing, commercial agreements and litigation support matters and is identified as the top Canadian lawyer in this year’s research.
Peers comment that John Turner “has a big following” as a mining practitioner. He is well versed in leading corporate finance and M&A deals within the mining sector.
Tanneke Heersche draws praise from international peers from as far afield as Australia and the US. Her focus is on matters pertaining to natural resource project development in emerging markets.
Alison Lacy impresses market commentators this year with her excellent work in procurement and project development in the mining sector. 
Brian Graves is a respected mining specialist and prominent name at the firm, with a focus on corporate finance, commercial and securities issues.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell

A top-tier business law firm that distinguishes itself with nine listings for its lawyers in the international mining market.
Darrell Podowski is acclaimed by peers as “among the very best practitioners” in the market. He is well versed in advising mining companies on corporate finance, M&A and other corporate commercial matters.
Peers praise Paul Stein as “a terrific leader in the Canadian mining market”. His top-class practice includes advising mining clients on joint ventures, financing and project development matters.
Mark Bennett earns widespread recognition from peers around the globe for the quality of his mining practice. He is experienced at representing both Canadian and international mining companies in takeover bids, cross-border public offerings and public listings.
Jay Goldman is a highly regarded name in the Canadian mining market, specialising in securities and corporate finance matters.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon

This leading international firm sees seven of its practitioners highlighted this year for their work in the mining sector.
Bob Wooder is considered to be “among the very best practitioners in the market” by respondents, who also comment on his “great following in the space”. He is a specialist in advising private and public companies on the full range of corporate finance and M&A matters, with significant expertise in the mining sector.
Charles Kazaz is identified by peers as an accomplished practitioner in environment-related mining issues. He also advises major mining corporations regarding acquisitions, mine reclamation and mineral rights.
Market commentators laud David Glennie as “a first-class lawyer”. He focuses on international M&A and corporate finance matters, with a focus on resource transactions.

Other Leading Individuals


Jay Kellerman at Stikeman Elliott is acclaimed as “a market leader” by peers across the globe, a view reflected in his status as a Global Elite Thought Leader this year. He commands over 25 years of experience across a broad range of areas, including mining, corporate and commercial matters.
Ivan Grbesic attracts praise as “a strong up-and-coming lawyer in the market”. He is experienced in financing transactions, M&A and corporate reorganisations involving the sector.

Fellow practitioners from around the world have “a lot of respect” for Christopher Baldwin at Lawson Lundell. His expertise lies in transactional mining issues, including M&A, joint ventures and royalty sales.
Khaled Abdel-Barr comes “highly recommended” as one of the top practitioners in British Columbia and Canada. He is well versed in a broad range of domestic and international mining matters, including financing, joint venture and royalty agreements.

Roger Taplin at McCarthy Tétrault is described by one peer as “probably one of the finest mining lawyers I’ve worked with”, because of his sharp mind and outstanding experience. His superb practice sees him focusing on M&A and securities matters.

Peers “think very highly” of Brian Abraham QC at Dentons, noting him as “a terrific lawyer”. He offers a comprehensive mining practice from mineral exploration to construction and financing.

Global Elite Thought Leader Fred Pletcher at Borden Ladner Gervais is a highly respected mining practitioner, who gains plaudits from sources worldwide for his skill in the field. He specialises in acquisitions and dispositions, project development and royalty matters among others.
Erik Goldsilver in Toronto draws international acclaim for his mining and natural resources practice. He focuses on complex and high-value securities and capital markets matters pertaining to the sector.

Marvin Singer of Norton Rose Fulbright is “an established name in the market who really knows what he is doing in the mining world”. He commands over 35 years of experience in acquisition structuring, joint ventures, mergers and corporate reorganisations.

Cyndi Laval at Gowling WLG is “a fabulous lawyer” with vast experience in the mining sector, according to interviewees. Her specialty lies in corporate finance, M&A, securities and mining law.
France Tenaille earns recognition from peers as far afield as Brazil and Australia for her depth of mining expertise. She is experienced in cross-border corporate and project finance matters, with a particularly strong reputation for her work in Latin America.

Sole practitioner Eden Oliver is highlighted as an accomplished mining lawyer in the Canadian market. She features over 25 years of experience in joint ventures, M&A and financing matters within the industry.

Peers find that Michael Melanson at Bennett Jones is “a truly excellent and rare practitioner” in the market. His speciality lies in capital markets matters, including security offerings, takeovers and M&A transactions.

Carmen Diges of REVlaw is a top-quality mining practitioner, report international market commentators. She has standout expertise in M&A matters and possesses notable international experience across South America and Africa.

Alan Hutchison at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt is “a really good practitioner” in the field, comment impressed peers. He has a wide variety of mining experience, with a focus on M&A and corporate financing.

David Allman with Edwards Kenny & Bray receives widespread acclaim for his mining practice, which focuses on advising clients on international and domestic transactions, royalty agreements and joint ventures.


Cynthia Urda Kassis at Shearman & Sterling ranks among the very elite of mining practitioners globally, with peers calling her “the dean of mining in New York”. She is particularly well regarded for her financing expertise, with one source noting her as “outstanding in debt mining work”. She stands out as the top name in North America in this year’s research.

Joel Benson with Davis Graham & Stubbs is highlighted as “one of the top mining layers in the US” by respondents this year. His work centres around domestic and international corporate and commercial law, including debt financing, acquisitions and project development matters.
Randall Hubbard is “a fantastic name in the market” with 30 years’ experience in the area. His focus is on domestic mining law, including exploration, stock purchasing matters, joint ventures and financing.
Deborah Friedman is a “great lawyer” who earns widespread commendation from members of the international mining community. She specialises in securities, corporate finance, M&A and corporate governance matters within the industry.

William Prince at Dorsey & Whitney is praised as “a great mining lawyer” who is “very active in the market”. He commands over 30 years of experience advising on mining transactions, due diligence and compliance matters.

John Fognani of Haynes and Boone draws acclaim as “an excellent practitioner” with considerable experience in natural resources and environmental matters, including project development, compliance and public land issues.


Latin America

Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Florencia Heredia Allende & Brea, Buenos Aires
2. Rafael Vergara Carey, Santiago
3. Pablo Mir Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados, Santiago
4. Patricia Núñez Núñez Muñoz & Cía Ltda Abogados, Santiago
5. Carlos Vilhena Pinheiro Neto Advogados, Brasilia
6. Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado Rodrigo Elías & Medrano Abogados, Lima
7. Ignacio J Randle Estudio Randle, Buenos Aires
8. Carlos Pérez-Cotapos Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos & Cia, Santiago
9. Oscar Benavides Rodrigo Elías & Medrano Abogados, Lima
10. Fernando Aguirre B Bufete Aguirre Soc Civ, La Paz
11. Juan Paulo Bambach Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría, Santiago

Leading Firms


This Chilean powerhouse sees five of its members listed in this year’s research.
Rafael Vergara is recognised as one of the world’s leading mining lawyers. He is described as “first-tier; an excellent mining lawyer” and “the leader of a very strong mining practice”. He advises on some of the most significant mining transactions in South America.
Juan Francisco Mackenna draws praise from market commentators for his deep experience in mining matters, including environmental and land use issues.
Francisco Corona is a highly regarded mining practitioner with broad expertise in restructurings, joint ventures and M&A.
Francisco Ugarte is recommended as “one of the best mining practitioners in Chile” by peers. He is a corporate and commercial law specialist, who frequently handles in international and domestic M&A work, joint ventures and debt offerings in connection with the sector.
Alberto Cardemil is a standout practitioner noted for his “strong experience in financing matters” as well as mining acquisitions.

Marval O'Farrell & Mairal

Performs well this year, with its practitioners obtaining three listings.
Luis Lucero is praised emphatically by peers as “probably the most qualified lawyer on mining law in the market”. They note that he “absolutely deserves his place on the list” and “brings a great deal of mining expertise to the firm”.
Leonardo Rodriguez is identified as a go-to name in the market for his “deep knowledge of and experience in both legal matters and industry needs”. His practice covers an array of contentious and non-contentious matters. 
Respondents highlight associate Andrés Villarreal as “a very good young lawyer who does very serious work” in relation to mining matters.

Rodrigo Elías & Medrano Abogados

Performs well in the Latin American market, with three listings in this edition.
Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado draws acclaim from market commentators across the Americas for his superb practice. He advises clients on a wide range of project financing and M&A transactional matters pertaining to the mining sector.
Oscar Benavides has developed a standout mining practice, with sources lauding him as “a great mining specialist, especially regarding transactional matters”. One peer comments: “Oscar always takes care of his clients’ interests.” 
Francisco Tong is a well-regarded practitioner in the market who is highlighted for his strong experience in regulatory compliance in the mining sector.

Other Leading Individuals


Florencia Heredia at Allende & Brea ranks as the top mining practitioner in the region this year. Peers emphatically laud her as “an elite mining lawyer and a dean within Latin American mining practice”.

The “well-recognised” Ignacio Randle with Estudio Randle is one of the stars of the Argentinian mining market and one of our Global Elite Thought Leaders. His work centres around international transactional matters and corporate law in the mining and energy sectors.

Ignacio Hernán Celorrio at Quevedo Abogados is widely regarded as “a great mining lawyer focused on the lithium sector”. He commands over 20 years of experience advising both domestic and international clients on all aspects of Argentinian mining law.

Roberto Fortunati of Beccar Varela garners plaudits as a top expert in the mining sector by respondents. His expertise lies in corporate and project financing matters.

Carlos Saravia Frias at Saravia Frias Mazzinghi Abogados “does an excellent job as a practitioner and has a very practical approach”, say interviewees. He has considerable knowledge on and experience with Argentinian mining regulations.


Fernando Aguirre B at Bufete Aguirre Soc Civ is a highly regarded mining practitioner and is described as “a classic name in the market” by peers. He offers more than 40 years of mining experience in Bolivia.


Carlos Vilhena with Pinheiro Neto Advogados is described as “a fantastic lawyer” by peers in the US and Canada. They comment that he is “knowledgeable and practical” as well as “very committed and technical”.
Adriano Drummond C Trindade is a well-regarded name in the Brazilian mining market. He has acted on recent mining acquisitions involving copper and nickel, among others.


Pablo Mir at Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados is one of the most distinguished names in the mining market, with peers calling him “an awesome practitioner”. He is well versed in exploration, project management and regulatory matters.

Carlos Pérez-Cotapos at Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos & Cia is “a senior figure in the market and is a very knowledgeable practitioner”. He is particularly strong on environmental issues and mining transactions, as well as financing matters.
Gonzalo Grez is “an outstanding and reliable practitioner who is very active in the mining field”. His broad practice includes expertise in mining acquisition and divestment, project finance, due diligence work and contractual matters, among others.

Juan Paulo Bambach of Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría is lauded as “an outstanding lawyer” by peers from around the world. His practice centres around exploration and transactional mining matters.
María Paz Pulgar is highly praised as “a rising star in the market” by commentators in Chile. Her expertise lies in M&A and other transactional work in the mining sector.

Jerónimo Carcelén Pacheco at Carcelén, Desmadryl, Guzmán & Tapia is “a very strong lawyer who is extremely experienced in international mining work”, according to impressed market sources.

Cristian Quinzio S with Quinzio & Cia is an acclaimed mining practitioner who “definitely deserves to be included”, according to commentators. He is renowned for comprehensive practice, which covers advisory and contentious work, including arbitrations, in the sector.
Marcelo Olivares C is lauded as “an excellent mining lawyer who is accomplished in mining contractual matters”. His practice also encompasses project financing and litigation.

Jorge Granic of Larraín y Asociados Abogados is described as “extremely active on the financing matters and is a strong lawyer in the Chilean market”. He is experienced advising on the financing, construction and operation of industrial projects in the energy and mining sectors.

Andrés Verdugo at Núñez Muñoz & Cía Abogados is “a very experienced lawyer who is well versed in international mining projects”, say sources. He has considerable knowledge regarding corporate and taxation issues in Chile’s mining industry.  
Patricia Núñez is an authority on joint ventures, M&A and mining law in the Chilean market and is considered “an excellent attorney” by sources.

Antonio Ortúzar Jr at Baker McKenzie is “an active player in the market, and a strong practitioner” report peers. His extensive experience encompasses financings, support agreements and joint ventures involving mining clients.


Ignacio Santamaría Escobar of Lloreda Camacho & Co is praised for “understanding business matters, and promoting the efficient development of project acquisitions”. He draws on over 20 years of experience in mining joint ventures and acquisitions, as well as construction and operational-related matters.

Marianna Boza Morán at Brigard & Urrutia Abogados is recognised by peers for the strength of her mining practice in Colombia. She has notable experience advising on transactional matters in the area.


Roque Bernardo Bustamante at Bustamante & Bustamante is acclaimed by peers worldwide for the strength of his mining practice. His expertise lies M&A and capital raising and negotiations with government entities.

Jaime Zaldumbide with Pérez Bustamante & Ponce comes as “a highly recommended lawyer in the market”. He has significant experience in environmental regulations pertaining to mining operations in Chile, as well as exploration matters.

César Zumárraga at Tobar ZVS Spingarn is a well-regarded figure in the market among peers. Sources particularly praise his work on intricate, small-scale projects in the mining sector, although he is also highly adept at international transactions.


Rodrigo Sánchez-Mejorada at Sánchez-Mejorada Velasco y Ribé is “a truly excellent practitioner” in the Mexican market, report sources. He is well versed in corporate and M&A matters involving prominent mining projects.


Miguel Grau M at CMS Grau is a respected and established figure within the international mining community. He commands over 30 years of experience in complex contractual work in the area.
Cecilia Gonzáles draws praise from around the world for her superb work in contractual and environmental matters relating to mining projects conducted by international companies.

Respondents highlight Xennia Forno Castro Pozo at Rubio Leguía Normand as “a good lawyer for regulatory matters”. She boasts over 30 years of experience in mining and environmental law.
Emil Ruppert is “a prominent figure” in the mining market whose specialism lies in corporate law matters in the mining sector.

Sandra Orihuela with Orihuela Abogados is a well-regarded practitioner in the Peruvian mining market. She has a highly international practice, with dual qualification in the US and Peru and advises international corporations regarding corporate and compliance matters.



Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Peter Leon Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Johannesburg
2. Stéphane Brabant Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Paris
3. Ian Coles Mayer Brown LLP, London


This major African law firm leads the field in the EMEA market in terms of listings, with a total of 11 of its practitioners recognised for their outstanding mining work.
Lloyd Christie is an acclaimed mining practitioner and “a standout lawyer for environmental work”. He specialises in mineral resource regulation, financing and corporate restructuring, among other areas of mining practice.
Wolf Wohlers in Windhoek draws praise from international sources this year for the strength of his mining practice. His expertise lies in advising on financing, corporate and commercial legal matters pertaining to the mining industry.
Willem Le Roux is a well-regarded practitioner among international peers for his contentious mining practice. He regularly advises major clients on health and safety issues including inquests, prosecutions and other litigation.

Herbert Smith Freehills

A full-service global firm with impressive mining capability. Eight of its lawyers are listed.
Stéphane Brabant stands apart as the top lawyer in France in this year’s research, with sources lauding him for his “very strong mining practice”. He has world-class expertise in Africa-related mining projects, from M&A to compliance and dispute resolution. 
Rebecca Major is a “real dealmaker” say sources who highlight her as “extremely knowledgeable of the legal framework in English-speaking countries”. She has vast knowledge of the mining sector in Africa.
Peter Leon is a “a highly recommended practitioner” and the top lawyer in EMEA in our research. Sources praise his “strong work ethic” and “sensible and pragmatic solutions” as well as his “track record of success”.
Bertrand Montembault is a well-respected figure the market, with “a lot of regulatory experience in Africa”, particularly in Francophone countries.

Norton Rose Fulbright

An international heavyweight in mining, Norton Rose Fulbright has eight of its members listed in this year’s research.
Michael Dale is praised by peers across the globe as “an elder stateman of mining law”. He commands over 30 years of experience advising some of the world’s largest mining companies on construction matters and regulatory issues.
Anatoly Andriash is a well-regarded practitioner in the region for sophisticated mining work. His practice is geared towards corporate law, and has experience in M&A, project development and finance matters.

Webber Wentzel

This leading South African firm performs strongly this year, with four of its practitioners listed for their mining prowess.
Manus Booysen is a highly regarded mining practitioner among peers in the international market and is a top-tier name in South Africa. He offers three decades of expertise in the full range of mining and precious metals law, including regulatory and transactional matters.
Bruce Dickinson is described as “a really good practitioner in the field” by respondents this year. He has extensive experience in restructurings, disposals and other project work in the African market.

Mayer Brown

Four of the firm’s practitioners are recommended for their work in this year’s research.
The “excellent” Ian Coles continues to draw high praise from respondents, who are “impressed by his very good problem-solving skill, truly commercial approach and his level of knowledge and international experience”. He predominantly focuses on financing work across Africa and the Middle East.
Rachel Speight is a highly regarded project finance lawyer with deep expertise in the mining sector and extensive international experience.

Other Leading Individuals


David Glennie at Blake Cassels & Graydon is described be peers as “a first-class practitioner in the market”. His practice centres around international M&A matters and corporate finance pertaining to the mining sector.

Al Gourley with Fasken is a well-regarded name internationally for mining work. He is highly experienced in corporate financing matters including IPOs, joint ventures and M&A.


Natural resources expert Casper Herler at Borenius Attorneys is highlighted by peers as “one of the best lawyers in Finland”. He specialises in advising clients on mining and environmental law including project planning and corporate responsibility.


Thierry Lauriol with Jeantet is “one of the best mining lawyers in France”, according to prominent peers. He commands over 30 years of experience advising clients across EMEA.


Kojo Bentsi-Enchill of Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah is acclaimed as “an excellent lawyer” in this year’s research, where he stands out as one of Africa’s top names. His expertise in mining law is focused on complex commercial and corporate matters.

South Africa

Chris Stevens at Werksmans Attorneys is “the leader of the firm’s practice” and is lauded by market commentators as “a strong practitioner who is very good on regulatory mining issues”.



Global Elite Thought Leaders
1. Geoff Simpson Allen & Overy LLP, Perth
2. Heath Lewis King & Wood Mallesons, Perth

Leading Firms

King & Wood Mallesons 

A top international firm that demonstrates the strength of its mining practice group with four of its practitioners listed.
Heath Lewis is praised as “a strong and very active practitioner in the mining space” by peers around the globe. He has vast experience advising on multimillion-dollar corporate transactions in the space.
Alan Murray earns acclaim as “an outstanding lawyer” and “a senior statesman” in the field from market commentators. He is well versed in corporate matters, including sale and purchase agreements, joint ventures and a range of contractual matters relating to the mining sector.

Clayton Utz

Performs well this year with four listings.
Stuart MacGregor draws praise from international sources for his work in the mining space this year. He is an M&A and regulation specialist with experience in a broad range of mineral projects. 
Brett Cohen is highly regarded corporate and commercial specialist, with a special focus on projects in the natural resources sector. He has advised on an array of high-value projects including gold, lithium and iron ore mines.

Other Leading Individuals


Geoff Simpson with Allen & Overy is identified by peers internationally as “a market leader” among mining practitioners, a view reflected in his selection as a Global Elite Thought Leader this year. His speciality lies in domestic and cross-border M&A work.

Igor Bogdanich at Allens earns international acclaim as one of Australia’s top mining lawyers. He focuses on joint ventures, acquisitions, disposals and project development matters.  

Will Moncrieff of Jackson McDonald is “a good operator” in the mining sector who wins recognition as “an extremely active and well-known name in the international market”.


Audrey Chen at JunHe receives recognition from peers around the globe for her work in the mining space. She is a corporate and commercial law specialist who has experience advising both domestic and international clients.


Barry Irwin at Allen & Overy is “an outstanding technical lawyer with a very commercial mindset”. He has a broad range of experience in cross-border transactional work in the mining sector, including joint ventures, sale and purchase contracts and the negotiation of mining concessions.

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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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