Areas of Practice

Land Use
Mining

Patrick G. Mitchell
Partner

Patrick G. Mitchell

Patrick G. Mitchell’s practice focuses on mining, land use and environmental issues. His clients include many of the largest multinational and national mining companies in the world. He is recognized throughout California as the top mining attorney in the state. He has also worked on permitting some of the largest residential and commercial development projects ever approved in California. His primary work is for the California mining industry. He has also permitted wind farms, landfills, port expansions, residential, commercial and industrial projects over the years. He led the legal team regarding the largest agricultural conservation easement in California history of prime agricultural land. He has also worked on permitting and compliance work for wildlife and wetland mitigation banks.

Patrick has worked on several hundred mining and public land projects over the years on issues such as mine permitting; due diligence review for mine purchases/sales; mining lease and sale agreements; mine title issues; hazardous materials and hazardous waste issues; California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) reclamation plans, permits, annual filings, compliance, and Department of Conservation and State Mining and Geology Board appeal issues.

He has also worked on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service plans of operation, final reclamation compliance, inspections, and annual filing requirements; road and utility rights-of-ways; State Lands Commission exploration permit and mining leases, school land issues and title settlement agreements; streambed alteration agreements/wetlands (404 and 401) permits; waste discharge requirements; endangered species act permits (2081 and 2090, sections 7 and 10a); wildlife mortality issues; private mineral ownership disputes; federal mining claim issues, title issues, and mine claim contest actions; and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of EIRs, EIS’, mitigated negative declarations and EA/FONSI’s.

Patrick’s experience with mining issues involves most California counties (including the county planning and environmental health departments), the California Division of Mines and Geology, the California State Lands Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He also has extensive experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, several Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

His expertise encompasses work on over 200 different mine sites, involving underground, open pit, in-stream, and quarry mines involving gold, talc, clay, limestone, marble, gypsum, hectorite, garnet, iron, geothermal, lightweight aggregate, silica, soda ash, tourmaline, decomposed granite, sand and gravel, and crushed rock mines.

EXPERIENCE

Agricultural

  • Issues related to dam and upstream erosion issues, rancher, Placer County, 2014;
  • Completed the largest prime land agricultural conservation easement in state history, 9,300 acres, Fresno County, 2011;
  • Endangered species issues related to 2,500 acre farm, Sacramento County, 2011;
  • Corps compliance issues, 200 acre cattle ranch, Tehama County, 2006;
  • Corps compliance issues, 1,000 acre farm, Tehama County, 2010; and
  • Worked on wetlands permitting issues for winery and cattle ranch in Napa County, 2004;

Climate Change & Sustainability

  • SMUD (Solano County) wind project CEQA work (CEQA work for the largest phase of this project);
  • Newhall project proposed solar field (a few hundred acres in Ventura County) and solar residential/commercial rooftop mitigation (Los Angeles County) for 13,000 acre project; and
  • First Industrial Realty Trust (a REIT) mine project with co-located 40 acre solar field (Riverside County);

Ski Resorts

  • Bear Mountain, snowmaking pipeline and water rights, 1992-1994;
  • Kirkwood, specific plan, mountain master plan, and subdivisions, 1996 to present;
  • Mammoth, permitting issues, 1997; and
  • Squaw Valley, permitting issues, 1998.

Residential and Commercial

  • Newhall Ranch 14,000 acre residential and commercial project located in Los Angeles County, 2000 to present;
  • Valencia Company Natural River Management Plan, 2,000 acres; Los Angeles County, 1996 to 2000;
  • Ritter Ranch, 11,000 acre mineral rights issues, Los Angeles County, 2004 to 2005;
  • San Elijo Ranch, 3,000 acres mineral rights, San Diego County, 1998 to 2000;
  • General Plan amendment for 2,000 acre site, Riverside County, 1994 to 1995.

Industrial

  • Eagle Mountain Landfill, Riverside County, numerous BLM and county permitting issues,1990-1994;
  • Mesquite Regional Landfill, Imperial County, BLM, Corps and USFWS permitting issues, 1994 to 1996;
  • Port of Sacramento, permitting and CEQA issues, 1994 to 2006.
  • Broadwell Basin Hazardous Waste Repository, San Bernardino County, county and BLM permitting issues, 1990 to 1994.

Mining

  • Worked on numerous mining and public land projects over the last 28 years on issues such as mine permitting; due diligence review for mine purchases/sales; mining lease and sale agreements; mine title issues; hazardous materials and hazardous waste issues (business plans, and compliance); California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) reclamation plans, permits, annual filings, compliance, and DOC appeal issues.
  • Also has worked on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service plans of operation, final reclamation compliance, inspections, and annual filing requirements; road and utility rights-of-ways; State Lands Commission exploration permit and mining leases, school land issues and title settlement agreements; stream alteration (1603)/wetlands (404 and 401) permits; waste discharge requirements; endangered species act permits (2081 and 2090, sections 7 and 10a); wildlife mortality issues; private mineral ownership disputes; federal mining claim patent applications, title issues, and contest actions; and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of EIRs, EIS’, negative declarations and EA/FONSI’s.
  • Experience with mining issues involving numerous counties (including the county planning and environmental health departments), the California Division of Mines and Geology, the California State Lands Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He also has extensive experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, several Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Experience includes working on underground, open pit, in-stream, and quarry mines involving gold, talc, clay, limestone, marble, gypsum, colemanite, hectorite, garnet, iron, geothermal, lightweight aggregate, silica, soda ash, tourmaline, decomposed granite, sand and gravel, and crushed rock mines, involving over 200 different mine sites. Projects that he has worked on include, but are not limited to:

Aggregate

  •  Aggregate mine located in Riverside County (SMARA annual reports and compliance issues, mining lease, BLM plan of operation amendments, and mining claim title issues, 1989-1994);
  • Three Kern County aggregate mines (CEQA negative declaration review and SMARA permitting for aggregate mine approved 1993, annual SMARA compliance,1991-present, 404 permit, 1995, mining claim sales, 1997, and reclamation plans, 1996-1999);
  • Broadwell Basin Hazardous Waste Repository located in San Bernardino County (BLM material sales agreement, SMARA, and CEQA/NEPA repository (316 acre) and supporting aggregate (360 acre) and clay (230 acre) mines, approved 1993);
  • Two aggregate mines located in Riverside and San Diego counties (BIA lease issues, 1991-1992);
  • Five aggregate mines located in San Bernardino and Riverside counties (due diligence review for purchaser of large regional aggregate company, 1991);
  • Summit Valley Materials (CEQA and SMARA work for proposed rock mine, 1992);
  • Aggregate mine located in Riverside County (reviewed mining permit and reclamation plan and negotiated SMARA vested rights with county, 1993, permitting strategy issues, 1997);
  • Large regional aggregate producer with six mine sites in San Bernardino and Riverside counties (extensive due diligence work for purchaser, endangered species issues and CEQA review and CEQA opposition to MWD water pipeline, 1993-1994);
  • Sigma Stone Company (State Lands Commission lease issue for rock mine located in San Bernardino County, 1994-1995 and 2000);
  • In stream aggregate mines located in Sonoma County (reclamation issues, 1995);
  • Aggregate mine located in Tulare County (mineral reservation litigation, 1995);
  • Aggregate mine located in Marin County (asbestos compliance issue, 1995-1996);
  • Sand mine processing site in Sacramento County (permitting/CEQA issues, 1995, wetlands issues, 1996);
  • Burton ‘s Ready-Mix in San Bernardino County (Forest Service and BLM patent and contest issues, 1995-1996);
  • Aggregate property landowner representation, Cache Creek, Yolo County (mining lease/sale and land use issues, 1995-1999);
  • Quarry property involving gold and aggregate in El Dorado County (acquisition agreement and permitting issues, 1995-1996);
  • Cattle rancher representation, Sacramento County (aggregate lease issues, 1996);
  • State Lands Commission matter for rock mine in Lassen County (lease issue, 1996);
  • Landowner representation in Sacramento County (aggregate mining property, 1996);
  • Flood control association in Sacramento County (SMARA issues with the State Mining and Geology Board, 1996-1997);
  • Aggregate mine located in Yuba County (vested rights, endangered species, wetlands, SMARA and use permit, and Cal-OSHA issues 1996-2002);
  • Large aggregate company, worked on mines located in the Sacramento and Yolo counties (air quality, land use permitting and SMARA issues, 1996-1997);
  • Landowner of property in Fresno County (SMARA and mineral zone issues, 1997);
  • Aggregate company, three mines, both sand and gravel and granite, located in Tulare County (easement, mine permitting, ESA and CEQA issues, 1996-1999);
  • Bay area aggregate company (in-stream and endangered species issues, 1997);
  • Company with three mines in San Benito County and Monterey County (SMARA, 404 and use permit issues, 1997-2005);
  • Decorative stone company in Santa Barbara County (SMARA and SMGB appeal issues, 1997);
  • Farmer representation in Contra Costa County (sand mining lease, 1997);
  • Large corporate landowner in Southern California for property in San Bernardino County (aggregate mining leases, 1996-1999);
  • Sand mining company, Sacramento and Solano counties (CDFG 1603 issues, 1997);
  • Large aggregate company, mines located in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Kern County, Monterey County and Riverside County (404, 1603, mine permitting and SMARA issues, 1997-2003);
  • State Lands Commission surface title issues in San Diego County (1998-2000);
  • Sand mines in Tulare County (Mining lease, 2000);
  • Large national aggregate company, sites located in Sacramento, San Bernardino, Riverside, Fresno, Tulare, and Los Angeles counties (due diligence, and mine expansion permitting, 1997-present);
  • Large multi-national aggregate company aggregate mines in Alameda, Placer, San Joaquin, Monterey , San Bernardino, Tulare and Fresno counties (CEQA, Corps and ESA issues, new mine and mine expansion permitting, 1999-present);
  • Aggregate mine in Imperial County (vested rights, general plan, Corps, and ESA issues, 2005);
  • Small aggregate mine in Imperial County (BLM material, sales contract and right-of-way, ESA issues, 2004-2005);
  • Hard rock quarry in Mendocino County (CUP expansion permitting, 2005);
  • Sand Mines in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties (SMARA and ESA issues, 2004-2005);
  • Aggregate mine in Butte County for large national aggregate company (expansion permitting and CEQA litigation 2007 to 2010);
  • Expansion of hard rock quarry in Amador County (permitting 2008 to 2013);
  • Large aggregate mine located in Fresno County (permitting, CEQA litigation, and SMGB appeal, 2010 to present); and
  • Hard rock mine in Madera County (acquisition and permitting 2008 to present).

 Industrial Minerals

  • Underground colemanite mine located in Inyo County (permitting issues, 1989);
  • Limestone mine located in San Bernardino County (NEPA review for limestone mine, 1990);
  • Three talc mines located in Inyo and San Bernardino counties (final reclamation, 1993-1994);
  • Large limestone mine located in San Bernardino County (CEQA/NEPA negative declaration, SMARA, CDFG and Forest Service permitting for limestone mine expansion, approved negative declaration 1992, additional expansion permitting work, ESA permits, and 1603/404/401 permits, 1991-1994);
  • Limestone mine facility located in San Bernardino County (endangered species issue, 1993-1994);
  • Eagle Mountain Landfill (landfill and final reclamation plan for iron mine, approved 1992, 1991-1992);
  • Proposed marble mine located in San Bernardino County (wilderness study area issues, 1993);
  • Proposed boric acid mine located in San Bernardino County (CEQA/NEPA EIR/EIS review, 1993);
  • Large hectorite mine located in San Bernardino County (ESA Section 7 and CDFG 2081 permits, 1993-1994);
  • Proposed marble mine located in Riverside County (review mining claim patent issue, 1994);
  • Desert Garnet, Inc., Desert Garnet Mine located in San Bernardino County (BLM plan of operations approved 1994, right-of-way issue, 1995, SMARA issues, 1997);
  • Due diligence and permitting work for a silica mine located in Lassen County (1995);
  • Major geothermal facility in Sonoma County (site closure work, 1996-1998);
  • Limestone mine located in Shasta County (SMARA, stream alteration and endangered species issues, title issues, 1996-2000);
  • Limestone mine located in San Bernardino County (CEQA and ESA compensatory habitat issues, 1997);
  • Limestone mine (BLM patenting issues, 1999);
  • Underground tourmaline mine in San Diego County (mining lease, 1998-1999);
  • Cinder mine in Inyo County (ESA/CESA, BLM and USFS permitting issues, 1999-2002);
  • Industrial sand mine in Amador County (RWQCB permitting, 2001 and 2005);
  • Shale mine in Amador County (SMARA, CEQA and mine permitting issues, 2002-2003);
  • Shale mine in Shasta County (vested rights and SMARA, 2003-2004);
  • Limestone mine in Tuolumne County (vested rights and SMARA issues, 2002-2004);
  • Due diligence for cinder mine in Modoc County (2004);
  • Limestone mine in Shasta County (mine expansion permitting, 2004-present);
  • Due diligence for limestone mine in Shasta County (2005);
  • Granules mine in Riverside County for multinational mining company (SMARA and vested rights issues, 2009 to 2010);
  • Industrial sand mine in Amador County (permitting and compliance issues, 2005 to present);
  • Granules mine in Amador County (acquisition and permitting issues 2011 to present);
  • Expert witness on mine permitting in California in clay mine condemnation action (2012 to 2013); and
  • Expert witness in mine permitting in California for colemanite mine (2013 to 2014).

Precious Metals

  • Viceroy Gold Corporation, 2,700 acre gold mine located in San Bernardino County (wildlife and endangered species permitting work, BLM plan of operation and SMARA reclamation plan, Corps nationwide permit, CEQA/NEPA review of EIR/EIS, RMPP review, SPCC plan review, mine approved 1990, power line EA approved, 1991, 1989-1994);
  • Amax Gold, Hayden Hill Mine, Lassen County (CEQA/NEPA review of EIR/EIS and ESA issues for a 2,800 acre gold mine and related power line approved 1991, 1990-1992);
  • Royal Mountain King Mine, Calaveras County (due diligence review for potential purchaser, 1991);
  • Adrienne Knute, San Bernardino County (BLM surface title acquisition, 1989);
  • Western States Minerals, Alpine County (reviewed EIS/negative declaration, 1992);
  • Gold exploration project located in Inyo County (CEQA/NEPA negative declaration review, and BLM and State Lands Commission permits, 1993-1994);
  • Gold exploration project located in Kern County (BLM permitting and SMARA compliance work, 1994);
  • Gold mining project located in Inyo County (mining lease, 1994);
  • Gold exploration project located in Riverside County (access to mining claims in wilderness area, 1995);
  • Compliance and permitting work related to hazardous materials and reclamation violations for gold mine located in San Bernardino County (1993-1996);
  • Due diligence work for an underground gold mine located in Nevada County (1995-1996);
  • Permitting issues for gold exploration project located in Nevada County (1996);
  • Gold mining lease for small project located in Sacramento County (1996);
  • Large gold mine located in San Bernardino County (CEQA/NEPA review for 500 acre expansion, 1997);
  • Small gold mine located in San Bernardino County (mining lease and joint venture agreement, 1997);
  • Large gold mine located in Inyo County (BLM title review work, 1997);
  • Underground gold mines in Sierra County (mining leases, 1998-1999);
  • Gold dredge operation in Yuba County (SMARA issues, 1999);
  • Mineral estate acquisition from BLM for surface owner for 7,000 acre area in CDCA (2000).
  • Mesquite Mine located in Imperial County (ESA/CESA and CEQA/NEPA review, SMARA and use permits for expansion, 1997-2000);
  • Underground gold mine in Amador County (ESA and CEQA permitting and litigation, 1997-2001); and
  • Due diligence work on open pit gold mine in San Bernardino County (2004);
  • Gold property in Plumas County (mining claims issue, 2003-2005);
  • Underground titanium mine, Mariposa County (reclamation issues, 2007 to 2008);
  • Historic underground gold mine in Nevada County (expert witness on mineral rights, 2008 to 2009);
  • Gold mine site in Calaveras County (title work and mine lease, 2011 to 2012);
  • Gold mine prospect in Mariposa County (due diligence and title issues, 2012 to 2013);
  • Gold prospect site in Imperial County (due diligence, title and permitting issues, 2010);
  • Gold mine in Napa and Lake counties (reclamation issues, 2014 to present).

MEMBERSHIPS

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Member; Former Trustee; Annual Site Selection Committee, Former Chair
Northern California Super Lawyers, 2012 and 2013

American Bar Association, Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Former Member; Public Lands and Land Use Committee of SONREEL, Former Vice-Chair
California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (CalCIMA), Environment Committee, Member

California Mining Association, General Counsel; Executive Committee, Former Member; Lands and Minerals Committee, Past Vice-Chair; Regulatory and Permitting Subcommittee, Environment Committee, and Legislative Committee, Legal Lead

Construction Materials Association of California, Environment Committee, Former Member

Aggregate Producers Association of Northern California, Environment Committee, Former Member; California Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition and on the California Resources Agency Coastal Salmon Policy Committee, Former Member

Association of Environmental Professionals, North Valley/Sierra Chapter, Member; Inland Empire Chapter, Former Member

Building Industry Association of Superior California, Former Member; Riverside County BIA, Environment Committee, Former Member

State Chamber of Commerce, Natural Resources Committee, Former Member

EDUCATION

University of California, Davis School of Law (J.D., 1986)
California State University, Fullerton, California (B.A., double major, 1983)

PUBLICATIONS

Author on numerous occasions including issues related to mining, wetlands, land use permitting, and endangered species issues including:

RMMLF Mineral Law Newsletter quarterly, California Reporter, 1990 to present.

The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “Mineral Rights and Wrongs,” July/August 1999 , Author

Construction Materials Association of California newsletter “The Status of 1603 Agreements,” April 1999 , Author

The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “Attorney Fees to Defendants in CEQA Actions,” Dec. 1997, Author

The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “Appellate Court Reverses Use of 2081 Permits; Status of Pending Supreme Court Review and Legislation,” June 1997, Author

The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “Update on DOC Flood Control Exemption,” December 1996, Author

The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “Army Corps Nationwide Permits and Department of Conservation Flood Control Exemption”, August 1996, Author
The Transfer Point (Newsletter of the Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association), “The Status of ESA and CESA Reform,” October 1995, Author

CalCIMA (2015) “Winners and Losers: Recent CEQA Appellate Cases Involving Mining Projects”

PRESENTATIONS

A presenter on numerous occasions including issues related to mining, wetlands, land use permitting, and endangered species issues including:

  • SME 3rd Annual Conference: “Impact of Regulation on Mine Financing: How to Assess, Quantify, and Minimize Risks of the Permitting Process,” (2015), Presenter
  • California Council of Land Trusts, California Land Conservation Conference: “Real Estate Skills and Strategies: Mineral Issues for the Conservation Practitioner,” (2015), Presenter
  • California Council of Land Trusts, California Mitigation Summit: “Mitigation-Related Policies and Critical Issues,” (2014), Presenter
  • CalCIMA Annual Education Conference: “Reclamation Obstacles: Completing the Process in the Face of Changed Regulatory or Site Conditions,” (2014), Presenter
  • CalCIMA Annual Education Conference: “Mine Sued? How to Win in CEQA Litigation,” (2014), Presenter
  • Arizona Rock Products Annual Meeting, “PR Firms and Mine Permitting,” (2012), Presenter
  • CalCIMA Annual Education Conference, “PR Firms and Permitting Mines in California,” (2011), Presenter
  • CalCIMA Annual Education Conference, “Water Supply Assessments and Mining Projects,” (2010), Presenter
  • Construction Materials Association of California, Annual Meeting, “Top 10 List for Permitting Issues for Today’s Aggregate Mines,” (2005), Presenter
  • 19th and 18th Annual Mining Institute, American Assn. of Professional Landmen, “Federal Mining Law Update,” (2002, 2003), Presenter
  • California Mining Association Permitting Seminar, “Reclamation Plans vs. CUP’s; What is Operational and What is Reclamation?” (2002), Presenter
  • 47th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, “Aggregate Mining: Acquisition of Minerals, Mineral Reservations, and Other Mysteries”, Santa Fe, N.M., (2001), Presenter
  • 46th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, Chair of the Mining Section, Vancouver, B.C., (2000), Presenter
  • California Mining Association Annual Meeting, “Mine Crisis Response Panel,” (2000), Presenter
  • 16th Annual Mining Institute, American Assn. of Professional Landmen, “Federal Mining Law Update,” (2000), Presenter
  • Construction Materials Assn. of California , Government Conference, “Due Diligence – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” (2000), Presenter
  • American Assn. of Professional Landmen , “Federal Mining Law Update”, 15 th Annual Mining Institute, (1999), Presenter
  • California Mining Assn. Annual Meeting, “Mining in the Mother Lode 1849 to 1999,” (1999), Presenter
  • U.C. Riverside 2nd Annual ESA Symposium, “Laws Regarding Endangered Plants,” (1998), Presenter
  • American Association of Professional Landmen, 14th Annual Mining & Geothermal Institute, “Mining Law Update,” (1998), Presenter
  • 43rd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, “Federal Mining Law Update,” (1997), Presenter
  • 13th Annual Mining & Geothermal Institute, American Association of Professional Landmen, “Federal Legislative, Regulatory and Case Law Developments Regarding Mining,” (1997), Presenter
  • Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Association Annual Meeting, Wetlands and Wildlife Permitting Panel, (1997), Panelist
  • California Mining Association annual meeting, “Current Developments Regarding CESA and ESA,” April 1996, Presenter; California Mining Review magazine article, (1996), Author
  • Sacramento County Bar, Environmental Law Section, “California Mining and the Environment 1845-1995,” (1995), Presenter
  • U.C. Davis Extension Course, Advanced CEQA Seminar, “Defining The Environmental Baseline for Existing Projects,” (1995), Presenter
  • Association of Environmental Professionals, North Valley/Sierra Chapter,” California Endangered Species Act Reform,” (1995), Panelist
  • Downey Brand LLP, Development and the Environment: Issues of the 90’s seminar, “Endangered Species and Development – Project Permitting Approaches and Recent Cases,” (1995), Presenter
  • U.C. Davis Extension Course, Advanced CEQA Seminar, “Preparation of Joint NEPA/CEQA Documents,” (1995), Panelist
  • Sacramento Valley Landowners Association, Annual Meeting, “Permitting Requirements for Levee Improvements,” (1995), Presenter
  • Public Land and Mining Disputes Mediation Panel at SONREEL, Eighth Annual Conference on “Developments and Trends in Public Land and Mining Law,” (1994), Panelist
  • 37 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 7-1,”Mining Operations and Wildlife: Mutually Compatible or Irreconcilable Differences?” (1991), Presenter
  • Nevada Society of CPA’s Annual Mining Taxation and Financial Reporting Conference, “Permitting a Mine in the Environmental Climate of California,” (1990), Co-speaker