Exploration and Mining

Historically Ireland has been internationally renowned as a major zinc-lead mining centre, making it the largest zinc producer in Europe and the second largest producer of lead.

William Fry is one of a small number of leading Irish law firms with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the exploration and mining industry.

Dating back to the early 1960’s William Fry has been involved in advising most of the big lead and zinc operations and sites at various levels e.g. site re-development/clean up, licencing and legal due diligence for prospective purchasers etc.

With a large portfolio of clients in the mineral development sector, we deliver a fully integrated legal service, from exploration to the mine development, and bring a deep understanding of the legal and practical challenges that these industry players face.


William Fry has considerable current and historic expertise in its Projects, Energy and Natural Resources Team, and across the Firm, to help bring any minerals exploration and/or development Project in Ireland to a successful conclusion.

We can draw on the following:

  • Our knowledge of mining administration and of the regulatory/licensing framework in Ireland including of conditions typically contained in prospecting licenses and mining leases/licences e.g. concerning exploration programming and minimum expenditure requirements.
  • An unrivalled knowledge of all of the other legal and regulatory regimes that are an inherent part of a full mining development project here: in particular:
  • Land use planning permission – required for full mining activity: we are vastly experienced at all stages of the process: the pre-planning process; stakeholder consultation, environmental impact assessment ect.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Licensing: An Integrated Prevention Pollution and Control Licence is required for full project development (subject to thresholds) and few firms have our level of knowledge of working within the EPA regime
  • Our experience of working with the full range of financial provisions and underwriting and bond requirements that apply to minerals development including: licence application fees; development contributions for roads and other infrastructure servicing a mining project (these are levied as part of the planning permission); financial underwriting to cover environmental risk; the very specific environmental insurance cover that the EPA will require. We are closely acquainted with the EPA’s requirements and expectations
  • The fiscal/tax regime relating to prospecting and minerals development in Ireland: including the capital allowance regime relating to exploration, plant, buildings and mine closure expenditure
  • Other “added value” elements/industry knowledge expertise we provide include:
  • Ensuring all related property and access rights are secured by agreement/way leave or via the statutory compulsory acquisition system, with which we are hugely experienced
  • Access to and close working relationships with the top geological and hydrogeological experts in Ireland
  • Experience of the site rehabilitation requirements/expectations of the EPA
  • Unrivalled knowledge of worker/occupational health and safety requirements at project development stage
  • Waste/tailings management: our knowledge of the specific Irish regime relating to the management of waste from the extractive industries


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  • The firm's "depth and versatility to provide the entire range of legal requirements"is often praised, with clients saying: "It is invaluable to have it all under one roof." 
    Sources also remark that the team is "very responsive and knows the sector well."Chambers Europe, 2017
  • "Very impressive, covering lots of different areas." Chambers Europe, 2016
  • William Fry’s energy team is ‘at the top of its game’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2015
  • "Behind everything that this firm does is common sense and legal sensibility. The work is very good, and clearly well thought-through...With William Fry you get the professionalism of a large firm but the personal feeling of a small business relationship." Chambers Europe, 2015
  • William Fry is ‘in the premier league when it comes to firms which specialise in energy and natural resources’.  Legal 500 EMEA, 2014 
  • Extensive involvement in a range of large-scale energy projects, including wind farm and biomass plant developments. Offers experience of matters relating to the water and oil sectors as well as regulatory issues. Also active advising clients from the mining industry. Chambers Europe, 2014 


  • Fergus Devine
    • Fergus Devine is praised for his "huge depth of knowledge and dynamism." Chambers Europe 2017
    • Fergus Devine ‘does not shirk the difficult messages’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2017
    • Fergus Devine leads the group and is highly focused on energy regulatory advice, drawing plaudits from interviewees for being "able to understand complex, technical issues" and "grasping the mechanics of the energy markets." Chambers Europe, 2016
    • Fergus Devine ‘really understands the energy business’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2015 

Key Contacts

Conor Linehan Partner