Legally green: Orica's assistant GC Yadira Flores navigates sustainability in mining

'I'm very passionate about strengthening our Indigenous partnerships and relationships'
Legally green: Orica's assistant GC Yadira Flores navigates sustainability in mining

Yadira Flores is passionate about ESG. As the assistant general counsel for North America at Orica, a leading mining, construction, and infrastructure solutions company known for commercial blasting, she tells Lexpert that a lot is happening in the sustainability space – and it’s an area she’s keen on advancing.

“I’m very passionate about strengthening our Indigenous partnerships and relationships, which is something I have a background in from my time in private practice, as well as supporting agreements that will help us achieve our carbon reduction targets and supporting diversity and inclusion when it comes to leadership within Orica. Those are all areas that I think are of great importance to the company, that I have an interest in, and that I really look forward to supporting.”

Flores started her legal career in a private practice in downtown Bay Street – from student to partnership. After spending a decade in the same law firm, Flores jumped to an in-house opportunity at Newmont – before moving to her current role at Orica.

“I oversee all legal issues relating to Canada, but I also support the rest of the region, which includes the US, Mexico and the Dominican Republic,” she tells Lexpert. “In terms of day-to-day responsibilities, I work a lot with our customer-facing and business development teams, plant managers, procurement and with other functions like our safety, health, environment and security function (SHES) to deliver the best legal services that we can to the internal stakeholders.”

This commitment to working in collaboration across the organization to find solutions to challenges defines Flores. As she navigates increasingly complex regulatory compliance requirements, Flores believes collaboration is a crucial driver to success for all challenges facing the company and the local industry needs and requirements – permitting the team to draw upon experience and knowledge across the global enterprise.

“I’ve been involved in some new reporting obligations, for example, with the modern slavery legislation that came in place in Canada,” she explains.

Despite the complexities involved, Flores views compliance as an opportunity to leverage existing global practices while adapting to local requirements.

“Because we're a global company, this is something that's already being done in other jurisdictions – we're not reinventing the wheel completely. We can draw on practices that have already taken place, as well as due diligence and reports from other jurisdictions.”

Navigating legal landscapes across multiple jurisdictions, Flores points to the differences between Canadian and US laws and sees value in leveraging the expertise of local counsel. She underscores the importance of staying abreast of regulatory changes, particularly in her role spanning North America.

“Our North America general counsel sits in the US, so I have access to US lawyers who’re familiar with the local laws of their jurisdiction,” says Flores. “There are differences between the two [speaking of Canada and the US], and it’s something I do have to be aware of and stay on top of – however, I do have access to expertise locally in the US, so I'm not necessarily the one that needs to advise on US laws.”

Reflecting on her recent transition to Orica, Flores remains focused on enhancing the legal function within the region. With objectives aimed at streamlining processes, improving templates, and providing training to internal stakeholders, she is committed to empowering teams and maximizing the value of legal services.

"I also want to help train up and provide tools to our internal stakeholders," she says, "to help them do their work better and to use legal services in a way that adds more value to their roles."

Despite the shift from private practice to in-house counsel, Flores maintains a proactive approach to professional development, recognizing its impact on delivering superior advice.

"The more we improve our own skills," she asserts, "the better that we can advise our internal stakeholders and support the business.”