Dan Colton

Dan Colton




Dan focuses his practice on mining, natural resources, federal and state environmental review and permitting, and public lands use. He represents clients in strategic mine development planning, project acquisition and due diligence, federal-state-private mineral land acquisition, administrative and regulatory proceedings, federal and state regulatory agency affairs, and complex civil litigation. Dan is an active member in Dorsey’s U.S.-China Practice Group and has spent considerable time in China advising mining companies on successful investment in U.S. mineral assets through implementation of effective pre-acquisition due diligence.

Dan has served in private practice for close to 25 years and recently as General Counsel/V.P. Regulatory Affairs at a mining company for five years. Dan takes pride in serving as a strategic partner and trusted advisor to his clients. Dan combines strategic “big picture” vision, strong analytical abilities and good business and legal judgment to help clients forge and implement effective transactional, regulatory/permitting, and litigation action plans.

Dan’s strong science and legal background uniquely enables him to work closely and effectively with engineers, scientists, and technical experts, bridging the science-legal divide, creating unique synergy among attorneys, client personnel and experts. Dan optimizes team performance and results in successful client advocacy, premised on compelling themes, in any forum, whether the board room, court room, agency proceeding, or public hearing.

Education & Admissions

William Mitchell College of Law (J.D., 1990), cum laude

Queens University (M.S., Geochemistry, 1984)

St. Lawrence University (B.S., Geology, 1981)


  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota


Representative Experience

Dan’s experience includes advising mining and natural resources clients on:

  • Joint venture agreements 
  • Royalty agreements and arbitration
  • Mine project due diligence relating to acquisition and ownership; time and cost estimates relating to development activities, including environmental review, permitting, and stakeholder appeals and litigation; environmental compliance 
  • Due diligence, acquisition, negotiation and maintenance of federal-, state-, and private-mineral tenure and federal leasing mineral rights
  • Optimizing mine configuration and facility design in project studies (e.g., conceptual studies, pre-feasibility studies, etc.) to reflect client-acceptable permitting, time, and cost risks 
  • Streamlining and expediting the regulatory pathway through federal and state agency environmental review and permitting 
  • Working with public land (e.g., National Forest and Park) managers, including the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, to obtain approvals for land access and mine permits
  • Designing, developing, and implementing strategic land acquisition and management plans to support project permitting and operations
  • Redeveloping contaminated “brownfield” properties, including acquisition, cleanup, government funding, and cost recovery litigation
  • Litigating complex environmental contamination cases
  • Defending third party challenges to agency administrative decisions
  • Dan has extensive experience advising clients in application of federal and state hazardous and solid waste regulations (e.g., RCRA-HSWA) as applied to varied waste and process streams
  • Defending against federal and state agency enforcement actions (e.g., U.S. EPA Clean Air Act violations; U.S. EPA / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency RCRA-Solid Waste permit violations)
  • Defending marina owners’ riparian and “quality of boating” rights through tactful use of expert coastal engineering models/opinions and preservation of the area encompassing breakwater construction permit zones

News & Resources


Inbound Mining Investment into the United States: What Does the Foreign Investor Face, Rocky Mineral Law Foundation 2015 Annual Institute Papers
Federal Circuit Frowns on Animation Costs, Minnesota Lawyer – In-House Counsel Quarterly Special Focus (Co-Author)
The Ringmasters – Expert Consultant in SciTech Litigation, Minnesota Lawyer – In-House Counsel Quarterly Special Focus (Co-Author)
Watch Your Words When Communicating with Experts, Minnesota Lawyer – In-House Counsel Quarterly Special Focus (Co-Author)
Engineering Scale Test Plan for Immobilizing Mixed Hazardous and Radioactive Waste in Grout, IT Corporation Report for Westinghouse Hanford Company (Co-Author)

News & Press Mentions

54 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 and 2019 Lawyers of the Year
51 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 and 2018 Lawyers of the Year
Dorsey Partner Dan Colton Comments on How Regulatory Oversight Keeps Miners Safe
Dorsey Adds Experienced Mining and Regulatory Lawyer I. Daniel Colton in Minneapolis
Well Testing Starts Scuffle, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Residents Tackle Water Concerns, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Select Presentations

  • Invited Chair/Speaker at Alaska Mining Association Annual Mining Conference panel on “Foreign Direct Investment in Alaska Mineral Assets: Risks and Opportunities,” November 2017
  • Invited Chair/Speaker at China National Mining Association Annual Conference session on “Successful Chinese Investment in U.S. Mineral Assets: New Era, Pre-Acquisition Due Diligence and CFIUS,” Beijing September 2016
  • Co-chair of China National Mining Association sponsored short course on “Direct Foreign Investment in U.S. Mineral Assets,” Beijing, March 2016
  • "Bridging the Communication Gap between Lawyers, Scientists and Others." Presentation and abstract with programs at the Waste Management Symposium 2008, Tucson, Arizona

Industries & Practices

  • China
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction Litigation
  • Corporate Governance & Compliance
  • Development & Infrastructure
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Environmental
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Mining

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Board Member, American Exploration and Mining Assoc. (f.k.a. Northwest Mining Association)
  • Board Member, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce
  • Member and Contributor, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Member, New Mexico Bar Association
  • Member, Science and Technology Division of American Bar Association
  • Vice-Chair, Metropolitan Water Management Organization (1997-2003)
  • Advisory Board Member, American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (1985-1987)


  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Mining©, 2020
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America©, 2018-2021
Dan Colton