Traditionally, when people speak about innovation, industries such as technology, manufacturing or even retail may come to mind. Mining, for the average citizen, is often seen as a traditional pursuit.
The reality for mining companies, and their legal advisors, however, is that innovation is an imperative that they can’t ignore. Mining in Canada is an industry that must look to the future, and it is rising to the challenge.
In this special edition, we look at some of the key areas where mining companies are evolving in the face of market and legal pressures.
Mining lawyers say that, although public markets may not be where financing is coming from, there is money available to invest and innovative ways to do it, including through joint venture partnerships. “Where companies are successful in raising capital, they’re doing it with multipronged financing packages, and some are quite complex,” John Wilkin, a partner in Blake Cassels & Graydon, told us.
The mining sector has also moved beyond the days of one-asset companies. “There’s too much risk,” Jay Kellerman, a partner at Stikeman Elliott, told us. “Better to put the one-asset company under the umbrella of a multi-asset company.”
And on the ground, mining projects are never operating in a static environment. Although the mining industry often operates on long-term agreements, political winds can change fast, impacting a project’s viability overnight.
Stakeholder engagement, a recent trend in corporate governance, is an imperative that the mining industry has long taken seriously. “What we’re seeing is companies doing their due diligence prior to engaging in serious project development and coming to their projects with an idea of what the company deems to be important from a [corporate social responsibility] perspective,” Thomas Isaac, a partner in Cassels Brock & Blackwell, told us. In fact, Isaac says, the “outliers” on community consultations are often governments, who could learn a thing or two from the relationship building that these companies do.
Mining lawyers are advising their clients to stay ahead of the game with these legal and market trends. They are leading by example, and they are well positioned to evolve and innovate to ensure their future, and that of all their stakeholders, looks bright.