Low commodity prices, depressed demand and oversupply, currency volatility and ongoing uncertainty around the pace of global economic recovery, are forcing a sustained period of distress that is rippling through the mining and metals industry.
Mining companies with good assets, steady production, decent revenues and sound management are in trouble, exposed to a sharp price drop or sudden liquidity shock. This is forcing quality asset divestments and balance sheet manoeuvrings to unlock value for shareholders and reduce unsustainable debt levels. Companies are also actively seeking ways to circumvent ‘debt’ restrictions in bond and bank documents as financial covenants are blown.
Some industry commentators are calling the bottom of the cycle, others the upswing, and some suggest the market is being redefined and becoming more stable.
Wherever we are in the cycle, the current environment is very interesting and particularly for buyers – activist investors, distress players, private equity firms and hybrid investment vehicles–with the biggest gains to be made by those bringing capital, expertise and long term interest to the industry.
Our metals and mining lawyers work exclusively on deals in the mining and metals industry and have done for decades, at White & Case and in-house at major, mid-cap and junior mining companies.
We understand the twists and turns of the sector. We know and track those involved, the assets, the market trends and commodity fundamentals. And we understand the technical side of the business, the underlying chemistry and geology and how mining works operationally, from pit-to-port.
Our global mining and metals team is shaped and reshaped to meet the needs of the industry. This means we can advise clients on their activities at all points in the cycle and bring an industry-focused approach to each transaction.
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Tier 1 in Mining and Metals
The Legal 500 UK, 2004 – 2014
"Possesses a real focus and depth of experience in the sector, with a highly rated London-based team."
Chambers – Energy & Natural Resources, Mining: International, 2015
"White & Case LLP's London team was part of the huge cross-office group that advised the purchasing consortium, led by China Minmetals, of the $7bn Las Bambas copper mine in Peru."
The Legal 500 UK – Projects, energy and natural resources, 2015
New World Resources comprehensive balance sheet restructuring
Central European hard coal producer in restructuring to survive a prolonged downturn.
MMG-led consortium's US$7+ billion acquisition and financing of Las Bambas
Chinese consortium's acquisition and financing of the Peruvian copper asset from Glencore PLC.
Gold Reserve's US$2+ billion ICSID arbitration against Venezuela
Canadian mining company's award on the expropriation of the Brisas gold/copper mine.
Vale's project development and financing of Nacala
Major Brazilian miner in its port and rail infrastructure in Mozambique and Malawi linking up the Moatize coal mine.
Uranium One's US$120 million revolving credit facility
Lenders (Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, Sberbank) in the Russian miner's RCF and senior secured high yield bond.
Kazakhstan's subsoil use legislation
Kazakhstan's Ministry for Investments and Development in drafting the new subsoil use framework.
Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée expansion financing
Lenders (Natixis, BNPP, SocGen, Credit Agricole, IFC, OPIC, EDC) in financing a Guinean bauxite mine.