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Coping With Acts of God, Strikes, and Other Delights—The Use of Force Majeure Provisions in Mining Contracts

Gregory P. Williams, Proceedings of 22nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1976)

Force majeure provisions are commonly found in a number of different kinds of contracts including a wide variety of mining-related agreements such as mineral leases, operating agreements, joint venture agreements, agreements for mining or milling services, and agreements for the sale of mineral products. Force majeure provisions vary from clauses containing but a few sentences to those containing several elaborate and detailed paragraphs. Such provisions also vary in terms of the scope of coverage and the extent of relief provided. Like most contract provisions, force majeure provisions are limited only by the needs of the parties to the contract and the ingenuity of the contract draftsmen. Too often, however, draftsmen treat the force majeure clause as one of the standard clauses to be placed near the end of a contract and do not devote enough attention to adapting the clause to the particular transaction covered by the contract. In these days of embargoes, drastic cost increases, environmental delays, and assorted crises of one type or another, the force majeure provision may well become an increasingly important element in contracts. The purposes of this paper, therefore, are to explore the force majeure concept [434] and the elements of the force majeure provision, to review the treatment such provisions have received in the courts, to consider the relation of certain lega