UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

x

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended: December 31, 2007

 

OR

 

o

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from           to

 

Commission File Number: 1-14066

 

SOUTHERN COPPER CORPORATION

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

13-3849074

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

11811 North Tatum Blvd. Suite 2500, Phoenix, AZ

 

85028

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:  (602) 494-5328

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered:

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

 

Lima Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

 

Yes  x               No  o

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15d of the Act.

 

Yes  o               No  x

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

 

Yes  x               No  o

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment of this Form 10-K.  o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  x      Accelerated filer  o      Non-accelerated filer  o      or a smaller reporting company  o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Act).

 

Yes  o               No  x

 

As of January 31, 2008, there were of record 294,465,650 shares of Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding.

 

The aggregate market value of the shares of Common Stock (based upon the closing price on such date as reported on the New York Stock Exchange - Composite Transactions) of Southern Copper Corporation held by non affiliates was approximately $6,896.6 million.

 

PORTIONS OF THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS ARE INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

Part III:

Proxy statement for 2008 Annual Meeting of Stockholders

 

 

Part IV:

Exhibit index is on Page 177 through 178

 

 



 

Southern Copper Corporation

 

INDEX TO FORM 10-K

 

 

Page No.

Part I.  Financial Information:

 

 

 

 

Item. 1

Business

4-16

 

 

 

Item 1A

Risk factors

17-27

 

 

 

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

27

 

 

 

Item 2

Properties

28-70

 

 

 

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

71

 

 

 

Item 4.

Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders

71

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part II.

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

73-75

 

 

 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

76-77

 

 

 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

78-104

 

 

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

105-108

 

 

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

109-170

 

 

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountant on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

171

 

 

 

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

171

 

 

 

Item 9B.

Other Information

171

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III.

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

172

 

 

 

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

172

 

 

 

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

172

 

 

 

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

172

 

2



 

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

172

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV.

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

173-175

 

 

 

 

Signatures

176

 

 

 

 

Exhibit index

177-178

 

3



 

PART I

 

Item 1. Business:

 

THE COMPANY

 

Southern Copper Corporation is one of the largest integrated copper producers in the world. We produce copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver.  All of our mining, smelting and refining facilities are located in Peru and in Mexico and we conduct exploration activities in those countries and Chile.  See “Review of Operations” for maps of our principal mines, smelting facilities and refineries.  Our operations make us one of the largest mining companies in Peru and also in Mexico.  We believe, based on our review of the major mining companies’ 2006 annual reports, that we are the largest publicly traded copper mining company in the world based on copper reserves.  We were incorporated in Delaware in 1952 and have conducted copper mining operations since 1960.  Since 1996, our common stock has been listed on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Lima Stock Exchange.

 

Our Peruvian copper operations involve mining, milling and flotation of copper ore to produce copper concentrates and molybdenum concentrates; the smelting of copper concentrates to produce anode and blister copper; and the refining of blister/anode copper to produce copper cathodes.  As part of this production process, we also produce significant amounts of molybdenum and silver.  We also produce refined copper using SX/EW technology.  We operate the Toquepala and Cuajone mines high in the Andes mountains, approximately 984 kilometers southeast of the city of Lima, Peru.  We also operate a smelter and refinery west of the Toquepala and Cuajone mines in the coastal city of Ilo, Peru.

 

Our Mexican operations are conducted through our subsidiary, Minera Mexico S.A. de C.V. (“Minera Mexico”), which we acquired on April 1, 2005.  Minera Mexico engages principally in the mining and processing of copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, gold and lead.  Minera Mexico operates through subsidiaries that are grouped into three separate units.  Mexicana de Cobre S.A. de C.V. (together with its subsidiaries, the “Mexcobre Unit”) operates La Caridad, an open-pit copper mine, a copper ore concentrator, a SX/EW plant, a smelter, refinery and a rod plant.  Mexicana de Cananea S.A. de C.V. (together with its subsidiaries, the “Cananea Unit”) operates Cananea, an open-pit copper mine, which is located at the site of one of the world’s largest copper ore deposits, a copper concentrator and two SX/EW plants.  Industrial Minera Mexico, S.A. de C.V. and Minerales Metalicos del Norte, S.A. (together with its subsidiaries, the “IMMSA Unit”) operate five underground mines that produce zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, a coal mine and several industrial processing facilities for zinc and copper.

 

We utilize many up-to-date mining and processing methods, including global positioning systems and computerized mining operations.  Our operations have a high level of vertical integration that allows us to manage the entire production process, from the mining of the ore to the production of refined copper and other products and most related transport and logistics functions, using our own facilities, employees and equipment.

 

The sales prices for our products are largely determined by market forces outside of our control. Our management, therefore, focuses on cost control and production enhancement to improve profitability.  We achieve these goals through capital spending programs, exploration efforts and cost reduction programs.  Our focus is on seeking to remain profitable during periods of low copper prices and maximizing results in periods of high copper prices.  For additional information on the sale prices of the metals we produce, please see “Metal prices.”

 

4



 

Currency Information:

 

Unless stated otherwise, all our financial information is presented in US dollars and any reference herein to “U.S. dollars”, “dollars”, or “$” are to U.S. dollars; references to “S/.”, “nuevo sol” or “nuevos soles”, are to Peruvian nuevos soles; and references to “peso”, “pesos”, or “Ps.”, are to Mexican pesos.

 

 

Unit Information:

 

Unless otherwise noted, all tonnages are in metric tons.  To convert to short tons, multiply by 1.102.  All ounces are troy ounces.  All distances are in kilometers.  To convert to miles, multiply by 0.621.  To convert hectares to acres, multiply by 2.47.

 

 

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

 

The following chart describes our organizational structure starting with our controlling stockholder.  For clarity of presentation, the chart identifies only principal subsidiaries and eliminates intermediate holding companies.

 

 

We are a majority-owned, indirect subsidiary of Grupo Mexico S.A.B. de C.V. (“Grupo Mexico”).  Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Grupo Mexico currently owns approximately 75.1% of our capital stock. Grupo Mexico’s principal business is to act as a holding company for shares of other corporations engaged in the mining, processing, purchase and sale of minerals and other products and railway and other related services.

 

5



 

We conduct our operations in Peru through a registered branch (the “SPCC Peru Branch” or “Peruvian Branch”).  The SPCC Peru Branch comprises substantially all of our assets and liabilities associated with our copper operations in Peru.  The SPCC Peru Branch is not a corporation separate from us and, therefore, obligations of SPCC Peru Branch are direct obligations of SCC and vice-versa.  It is, however, an establishment, registered pursuant to Peruvian law, through which we hold assets, incur liabilities and conduct operations in Peru.  Although it has neither its own capital nor liability separate from us, it is deemed to have equity capital for purposes of determining the economic interests of holders of our investment shares, formerly known as labor shares (See Note 13 “Minority interest” of our consolidated combined financial statements).

 

On April 1, 2005, we acquired Minera Mexico, the largest mining company in Mexico on a stand-alone basis, from Americas Mining Corporation (“AMC”), a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, our controlling stockholder.  Minera Mexico is a holding company and all of its operations are conducted through subsidiaries that are grouped into three units: (i) the Mexcobre unit, (ii) the Cananea unit and (iii) the IMMSA unit.  We now own 99.95% of Minera Mexico.

 

 

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT

 

Forward-looking statements in this report and in other Company statements include statements regarding expected commencement dates of mining or metal production operations, projected quantities of future metal production, anticipated production rates, operating efficiencies, costs and expenditures as well as projected demand or supply for the Company’s products.  Actual results could differ materially depending upon factors including the risks and uncertainties relating to general U.S. and international economic and political conditions, the cyclical and volatile prices of copper, other commodities and supplies, including fuel and electricity, availability of materials, insurance coverage, equipment, required permits or approvals and financing, the occurrence of unusual weather or operating conditions, lower than expected ore grades, water and geological problems, the failure of equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications, failure to obtain financial assurance to meet closure and remediation obligations, labor relations, litigation and environmental risks, as well as political and economic risk associated with foreign operations.  Results of operations are directly affected by metals prices on commodity exchanges, which can be volatile.

 

Additional business information follows:

 

COPPER BUSINESS

 

Copper is the world’s third most widely used metal and an important component in the world’s infrastructure.  Copper has unique chemical and physical properties, including high electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion, as well as excellent malleability and ductility that has made it a superior material for use in the electrical energy, telecommunications, building construction, transportation and industrial machinery businesses.  Copper is also an important metal in non-electrical applications such as plumbing and roofing and, when alloyed with zinc to form brass, in many industrial and consumer applications.

 

Copper industry fundamentals, including copper demand, price levels and stocks, strengthened in late 2003 and copper prices have continued to improve through 2007 from the 15-year price lows set during 2002.

 

6



 

BUSINESS REPORTING SEGMENTS:

 

Company management views Southern Copper as having three operating segments and manages on the basis of these segments.  The significant increase in the price of molybdenum in recent years has had an important impact on the Company’s earnings.  Nevertheless, the Company continues to manage its operations on the basis of the three copper segments.

 

The three segments identified are groups of individual mines with similar economic characteristics, type of products, processes and support facilities, similar regulatory environments, similar employee bargaining contracts, and similar currency risks.  In addition, each mine within the individual group earns revenues from similar type of customers for their products and services and each group incurs expenses independently, including commercial transactions between groups.

 

Intersegment sales are based on arms-length prices at the time of sale. These may not be reflective of actual prices realized by the Company due to various factors, including additional processing, timing of sales to outside customers and transportation cost.  Added to the segment information is information regarding the Company’s molybdenum sales.  The segments identified by the Company are:

 

1.               Peruvian operations, which includes the Toquepala and Cuajone mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, industrial railroad and port facilities which service both mines. Sales of its products are recorded as revenue of our Peruvian mines.

 

2.               Mexican open pit operations, which includes La Caridad and Cananea mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants and support facilities which service both mines.  Sales of its products are recorded as revenue of our Mexican mines.

 

3.               Mexican underground mining operations, which includes five underground mines that produce zinc, copper, silver and gold, a coal mine, which produces coal and coke and several industrial processing facilities for zinc and copper.  This group is identified as the IMMSA unit and sales of its products are recorded as revenue of the IMMSA unit.

 

Each of our segments reports independently to the Chief Operating Officer.  The Chief Operating Officer of the Company focuses on operating income and on total assets as measures of performance to evaluate different segments and to make decisions to allocate resources to the reported segments.  These are common measures in the mining industry.

 

Segment information is included under the captions “Overview-Metal production” and “Ore reserves.”  More information on business segment and segment financial information is included in Note 20 of our Consolidated Combined Financial Statements.

 

 

CAPITAL EXPANSION PROGRAM

 

For a description of our Capital Expansion Program see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Capital Expansion Program.”

 

 

EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES

 

We are engaged in ongoing extensive exploration to locate additional ore bodies in Peru, Mexico and Chile.  We invested $40.2 million on exploration programs in 2007, $22.7 million in 2006 and $24.4 million in 2005, and have budgeted $26.1 million for 2008.

 

7



 

Currently in Peru, we have direct control of 164,867 hectares of mineral rights.  In Mexico, we hold 293,137 hectares of exploration concessions.  We also hold 35,258 hectares of exploration concessions in Chile.

 

Peru

 

Tia Maria.  The Tia Maria project, which includes the Tia Maria and the La Tapada deposits, is located in the department of Arequipa on the southern coast of Peru and is part of a copper porphyritic system.

 

We have completed feasibility studies in 2007 covering 36,232 meters of diamond drilling at Tia Maria and 73,085 meters at La Tapada.  Estimated mineralized resources in Tia Maria show 193 million tons of mineralized material with 0.302% copper content.  For La Tapada, the estimated mineralized resources show 445 million tons of mineralized material, with 0.434% copper content.  The Company is conducting a bidding process for basic and detailed engineering as well as preparing to purchase major equipment and select construction management.  The Company expects to invest $65 million in this project during 2008. When completed at the end of 2010, the new operating unit will produce 120,000 tons of copper cathodes per year.

 

Los Chancas.  The Los Chancas project, located in the department of Apurimac in southern Peru, is a copper and molybdenum porphyry deposit.  The exploration program and the final phase of the metallurgical testing were completed in early 2006.  Pre-feasibility studies were completed in 2007.  Estimated mineralized resources identified after the preliminary design of the pit are 355 million tons of mineralized material with a 0.62% copper content, 0.05% molybdenum and 0.039 grams of gold per ton.  We expect to work on a feasibility study during 2008 which will include complementary studies and an additional drilling program in order to define the ore reserves of the deposit.

 

Tantahuatay.  The Tantahuatay project is located in the department of Cajamarca in northern Peru.  The exploration work is intended to evaluate the upper part of the deposit mainly for gold recovery.  Work to date indicates 27.1 million tons of mineralized material, with an average silver content of 13.0 grams per ton and 0.89 grams of gold per ton.  We have a 44.25% share in this project.  We have started a feasibility study to evaluate the possibility of recovering gold mineral from the upper part of the deposit.  We continue our efforts on dealing with social and environmental concerns of communities near the project.

 

Other Peruvian Prospects.

 

As part of the exploration program in 2007, we have drilled 14,352 meters in the southern region of Peru. Our 2008 program includes more intense copper exploration activities in the southern and northern parts of Peru, as well as gold exploration in Ayacucho, in the central part of Peru.

 

Mexico

 

In addition to exploratory drilling programs at existing mines, we are currently conducting exploration to locate mineral deposits at various other sites in Mexico.  The following are some of the more significant exploration projects:

 

El Arco.  The El Arco site is located in the state of Baja California in Mexico.  Preliminary investigations of the El Arco site indicate a mineral deposit of 846 million tons of mineralized material with average copper grades of 0.51% and 0.14 grams of gold per ton, and 170 million tons of leach mineralized materials with average copper grades of 0.56%.  In 2007, we have continued in the process of identifying water sources for a

 

8



 

leaching operation, and have finished four tests holes that indicate sufficient water potential for leaching operations.

 

Angangueo.  The Angangueo site is located in the state of Michoacán in Mexico.  A mineral deposit of 13 million tons of mineralized material has been identified with diamond drilling.  Testing indicates that the mineral deposit contains mineralized material containing 0.16 grams of gold and 262 grams of silver per ton, and is comprised of 0.79% lead, 0.97% copper and 3.5% zinc.  During 2005, we received the approval for our environmental impact study and we are in the process of obtaining land use approval.  During 2007, we have continued negotiating with the state of Michoacan to purchase various properties essential to the operation.

 

Buenavista.  The Buenavista project site is located in the state of Sonora in Mexico, adjacent to the Cananea ore body.  Drilling and metallurgical studies have shown that the site contains 36 million tons of mineralized material containing 29 grams of silver, 0.69% of copper and 3.3% of zinc per ton.  A new “scoping level” study indicates that Buenavista may be an economical deposit.  During 2007, 2,100 meters were drilled to upgrade the mineral resource and to acquire material for metallurgical testing.  Results confirm the previous geologic interpretation of the mineralized areas.

 

Carbon Coahuila.  In Coahuila, an intensive exploration program of diamond drilling has identified two additional areas, Esperanza with a potential for more than 30 million tons of “in place” mineralized coal and Guayacan with a potential for 15 million tons of “in place” mineralized coal, that could be used for a future coal-fired power plant.  During 2007 along with 5,767 meters of drilling, 23 million tons of mineralized coal resources were identified at our Nueva Rosita No. 16 concession.

 

The Chalchihuites.  The Chalchihuites project is located in the state of Zacatecas.  It is a contact deposit with mixed oxides and sulfides of lead, copper, zinc and silver.  A drilling program, in the late nineties, defined 16 million tons of mineralized material containing 95 grams of silver, 0.36% lead, 0.69% copper and 3.08% zinc per ton.  Preliminary metallurgical testing indicates a leaching precipitating-flotation recovery process that can be applied to this ore.  In 2007 we continued with the evaluation of the ore body and we expect to conclude the metallurgical testing of the project during 2008.

 

Sierra de Lobos.  This project is located southwest of the city of Leon, Guanajuato.  Our target is a copper and zinc deposit with grades between 0.5% and 1.0% copper and between 5% and 7% zinc including a small contribution of gold and silver.  In 2007, 7,338 meters have been drilled.  Results confirm the presence of copper and zinc mineralization, but an economic deposit has not yet been identified.

 

Chile

 

In Chile we have control of 35,258 hectares of mining rights, and are currently developing different exploration programs.

 

El Salado.  The El Salado prospect, located in the Atacama Region, is being explored for copper-gold.  Through 2007, 24,798 meters of diamond drilling were completed, 4,448 meters and 8,326 meters were drilled in 2007 and 2006, respectively.  Likewise, in the Sierra Aspera, a copper-gold prospect, located in the north of Chile, 1,128 meters of diamond drilling was performed.

 

Other Chilean Prospects.  There are other prospects such as Esperanza (copper-molybdenum), located in the Atacama region.  During 2007, we completed 2,538 meters of diamond drilling.  We are also continuing with the exploration of the Resguardo prospect

 

9



 

(gold-copper) in the Tarapaca region and the Catanave prospect (gold-silver) in the Arica region.

 

 

PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND MARKETS

 

The principal uses of copper are in the building and construction industry, electrical and electronic products and, to a lesser extent, industrial machinery and equipment, consumer products and the automotive and transportation industries.  Molybdenum is used to toughen alloy steels and soften tungsten alloy and is also used in fertilizers, dyes, enamels and reagents.  Silver is used for photographic, electrical and electronic products and, to a lesser extent, brazing alloys and solder, jewelry, coinage, silverware and catalysts.  Zinc is primarily used as a coating on iron and steel to protect against corrosion.  It is also used to make die cast parts, in the manufacturing of batteries and in the form of sheets for architectural purposes.

 

Our marketing strategy and annual sales planning emphasize developing and maintaining long-term customer relationships, and thus acquiring annual or other long-term contracts for the sale of our products is a high priority.  Approximately 90% of our metal production for the years 2007, 2006 and 2005, were sold under annual or longer-term contracts.  Sales prices are determined based on prevailing commodity prices for the quotation period, generally being the month of, the month prior to or the months following the actual or contractual month of shipment or delivery, according to the terms of the contract.

 

We focus on the ultimate end-user customers as opposed to selling on the spot market or to trading companies.  In addition, we devote significant marketing effort to diversifying our sales both by region and by customer base.  We strive to provide superior customer service, including just-in-time deliveries of our products.  Our ability to consistently fulfill customer demand is supported by our substantial production capacity.

 

For additional information on sales by segment, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Segment Sales Information.”

 

 

METALS PRICES

 

Prices for our products are principally a function of supply and demand and, except for molybdenum, are established on the Commodities Exchange, or COMEX, in New York and the London Metal Exchange or LME, the two most important metal exchanges in the world.  Prices for our molybdenum products are established by reference to the publication Platt’s Metals Week.  Our contract prices also reflect any negotiated premiums and the costs of freight and other factors.  From time to time, we have entered into hedging transactions to provide partial protection against future decreases in the market price of metals and we may do so under certain market conditions.  We have entered into copper swaps and collar contracts in 2007, 2006 and 2005 and into zinc swap contracts in 2006.  At December 31, 2007 we did not have any copper or zinc swap contracts outstanding.  See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”  For a further discussion of prices for our products, please see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations —Metal Prices.”

 

 

The table below shows the high, low and average COMEX and LME copper prices during the last 15 years:

 

10



 

 

 

Copper (COMEX)

 

Copper (LME)

 

Year

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

1993

 

1.07

 

0.72

 

0.85

 

1.02

 

0.74

 

0.87

 

1994

 

1.40

 

0.78

 

1.07

 

1.38

 

0.79

 

1.05

 

1995

 

1.46

 

1.21

 

1.35

 

1.40

 

1.20

 

1.33

 

1996

 

1.31

 

0.86

 

1.06

 

0.98

 

0.79

 

1.04

 

1997

 

1.23

 

0.76

 

1.04

 

1.23

 

0.77

 

1.03

 

1998

 

0.86

 

0.64

 

0.75

 

0.85

 

0.65

 

0.75

 

1999

 

0.85

 

0.61

 

0.72

 

0.84

 

0.61

 

0.71

 

2000

 

0.93

 

0.74

 

0.84

 

0.91

 

0.73

 

0.82

 

2001

 

0.87

 

0.90

 

0.73

 

0.83

 

0.60

 

0.72

 

2002

 

0.78

 

0.65

 

0.72

 

0.77

 

0.64

 

0.71

 

2003

 

1.04

 

0.71

 

0.81

 

1.05

 

0.70

 

0.81

 

2004

 

1.54

 

1.06

 

1.29

 

1.49

 

1.03

 

1.30

 

2005

 

2.28

 

1.40

 

1.68

 

2.11

 

1.39

 

1.67

 

2006

 

4.08

 

2.13

 

3.09

 

3.99

 

2.06

 

3.05

 

2007

 

3.75

 

2.40

 

3.22

 

3.77

 

2.37

 

3.23

 

 

The per pound COMEX copper price during the last 5, 10 and 15 year periods averaged $2.02, $1.39 and $1.28, respectively.  The per pound LME copper price during the last 5, 10 and 15 year periods averaged $2.01, $1.38 and $1.27, respectively.

 

At February 22, 2008, the COMEX and LME copper prices were $3.79 and $3.77 per pound, respectively.

 

The table below shows the high, low and average market prices for our three principal by-products during the last 15 years:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molybdenum (Dealer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oxide Platt’s Metals

 

 

 

Zinc(LME)

 

Silver (COMEX)

 

Week)

 

Year

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

1993

 

0.49

 

0.40

 

0.44

 

5.44

 

3.52

 

4.30

 

2.80

 

1.82

 

2.32

 

1994

 

0.52

 

0.42

 

0.45

 

5.78

 

4.57

 

5.28

 

17.00

 

2.68

 

4.59

 

1995

 

0.52

 

0.44

 

0.47

 

6.10

 

4.38

 

5.19

 

17.50

 

3.90

 

4.30

 

1996

 

0.48

 

0.45

 

0.47

 

5.82

 

4.67

 

5.18

 

5.50

 

2.90

 

3.78

 

1997

 

0.80

 

0.47

 

0.60

 

6.31

 

4.16

 

4.87

 

4.90

 

3.52

 

7.90

 

1998

 

0.52

 

0.42

 

0.46

 

7.26

 

4.61

 

5.53

 

4.60

 

2.00

 

3.41

 

1999

 

0.56

 

0.41

 

0.49

 

5.76

 

4.87

 

5.22

 

2.90

 

2.48

 

2.65

 

2000

 

0.58

 

0.46

 

0.51

 

5.55

 

4.56

 

4.97

 

2.98

 

2.15

 

2.55

 

2001

 

0.48

 

0.33

 

0.40

 

4.81

 

4.03

 

4.36

 

2.65

 

2.15

 

2.36

 

2002

 

0.38

 

0.33

 

0.35

 

5.11

 

4.22

 

4.60

 

8.30

 

2.40

 

3.77

 

2003

 

0.46

 

0.34

 

0.38

 

5.98

 

4.35

 

4.89

 

7.80

 

3.15

 

5.32

 

2004

 

0.58

 

0.43

 

0.48

 

8.21

 

5.51

 

6.68

 

33.25

 

7.20

 

15.95

 

2005

 

0.87

 

0.53

 

0.63

 

9.00

 

6.43

 

7.32

 

40.00

 

26.00

 

31.05

 

2006

 

2.10

 

0.87

 

1.49

 

14.85

 

8.82

 

11.54

 

28.40

 

20.50

 

24.38

 

2007

 

1.93

 

1.00

 

1.47

 

15.50

 

11.47

 

13.39

 

31.17

 

29.39

 

29.91

 

 

The per pound LME zinc price during the last 5, 10 and 15 year periods averaged $0.89, $0.67 and $0.61, respectively.  The per ounce COMEX silver price during the last 5, 10  and 15 year periods averaged $8.76, $6.85 and $6.22, respectively.  The per pound Platt’s Metals Week Dealer Oxide molybdenum price during the last 5, 10 and 15 year periods averaged $21.32, $12.14 and $9.62, respectively.

 

At February 22, 2008 the LME zinc price was $1.09 per pound, the COMEX silver price was $18.03 per ounce and the Platt’s Metals Week Dealer Oxide molybdenum price was $33.25 per pound.

 

11



 

COMPETITIVE CONDITIONS

 

Competition in the copper market is principally on a price and service basis, with price being the most important consideration when supplies of copper are ample.  The Company’s products compete with other materials, including aluminum and plastics.

 

EMPLOYEES

 

As of December 31, 2007, we employed 12,134 persons, approximately 72% of whom are covered by labor agreements with ten different labor unions.  During the last several years, we have experienced strikes or other labor disruptions that have had an adverse impact on our operations and operating results.  We cannot assure you that in the future we will not experience strikes or other labor related work stoppages that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Peru

 

Approximately 68% of our Peruvian labor force was unionized at December 31, 2007, represented by eight separate unions.

 

Collective bargaining agreements with the Company’s Peruvian labor unions expired in early 2007.  A number of strikes were initiated by the Company’s labor unions, demanding wage increases and better benefits.  In addition, some of the unions went on strike in support of national union strikes.  These strikes were generally of a brief nature and the Company was able to continue normal operations with the support of staff and administrative personnel and contractors.  New collective bargaining agreements, for periods ranging from three to six years, were signed by the end of the third quarter 2007 with all of the Company’s Peruvian unions.

 

Employees of the Toquepala and Cuajone units reside in town sites, where we have built 2,513 houses and apartments and 1,186 houses and apartments, respectively.  In 1998, Company housing, at our Ilo unit, was sold to workers at nominal prices.  We still hold 90 houses at Ilo for staff personnel.  Housing, together with maintenance and utility services, is provided at minimal cost to most of our employees.  Our town site and housing complexes include schools, medical facilities, churches, social clubs, shopping, banking and other services.

 

Mexico

 

Approximately 74% of our Mexican labor force was unionized at December 31, 2007, represented by two separate unions.  Under Mexican law, the terms of employment for unionized workers is set forth in collective bargaining agreements.  Mexican companies negotiate the salary provisions of collective bargaining agreements with the labor unions annually and negotiate other benefits every two years.  We conduct negotiations separately at each mining complex and each processing plant.

 

Beginning July 2007, employees at our mines at Cananea, Taxco and San Martin went on strike.  On January 11, 2008 the Mexican federal labor court declared the Cananea strike illegal and ordered the workers to return to work within 24 hours.  This ruling was challenged before a federal judge who upheld the union’s case on February 14, 2008.  The Company will appeal this unfavorable ruling.  The Company expects that it will take about three months to return to full production at Cananea.  The Company has put the Taxco operations on standby due to the strike.  Resuming operations at San Martin remains dependant upon the result of litigation.

 

The 4,201 workers from eight of eleven mining units and plants of Minera Mexico voted on September 5, 2007 to elect union representation, from among the “Sindicato de

 

12



 

Trabajadores Mineros Metalurgicos y Similares de la Republica Mexicana” (National Union of Workers Engaged in Mining, Metallurgical and Similar Activities) and the “Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Exploracion, Explotacion y Beneficio de Minas de la Republica Mexicana” (National Union of Workers Engaged in Exploration, Exploitation and Mine Development Activities) which belongs to the National Federation of Independent Unions with 332,000 members.  By overwhelming majority, 97% of the workers decided to change to the National Union of Workers Engaged in Exploration, Exploitation and Mine Development Activities.   On October 15, 2007 the Federal Labor Board for Conciliation and Arbitration decided in favor of the National Union of Workers Engaged in Exploration, Exploitation and Mine Development Activities, a decision which was later challenged and is pending before federal judges.

 

In 2006, there were a number of work stoppages at some of our Mexican operations.  While some of these work stoppages were of a short-term nature with little or no production loss, others have been more disruptive.  A strike at the La Caridad copper mine in Sonora began in the first quarter of 2006 and ended when the mine was returned to us on July 26, 2006.  A strike at the San Martin polymetallic complex in Zacatecas commenced in the first quarter of 2006 and ended in May 2006.  Additionally, workers at the Cananea copper mine went on strike on June 1, 2006 returning to work six weeks later on July 17, 2006.  These work stoppages were declared illegal by the Mexican authorities.  On June 9, 2006, we announced the closing of the La Caridad mine as picketing workers made it impossible to continue operations.  As a result of these strikes, we declared “force majeure” on certain of our June and July copper contracts.  On July 14, 2006, with the approval of a labor court, we dismissed the La Caridad workers.  Individual work agreements, and the collective union contract, were terminated in compliance with the provisions of the ruling rendered by federal labor authorities.  On July 26, 2006, the La Caridad installations were returned to us and we commenced to hire workers to resume operations.

 

On October 26, 2005, the workers at our La Caridad mining complex went on strike claiming that we still owed them profit sharing from 2003.  The strike was declared illegal and the workers returned to work two days later after the Company agreed to pay each worker approximately $900.00.  The total paid was $3.1 million.

 

Employees of the Mexcobre and Cananea Units reside in town sites at La Caridad and Cananea, where we have built approximately 2,000 houses and apartments and 275 houses and apartments, respectively.  Employees of the IMMSA Unit principally reside on the grounds of the mining or processing complexes in which they work and where we have built approximately 900 houses and apartments.  Housing, together with maintenance and utility services, is provided at minimal cost to most of our employees.  Our town sites and housing complexes include educational and, in some units, medical facilities, churches, social clubs, shopping, banking and other services.  At the Cananea Unit, health care is provided free of charge to employees, retired unionized employees and their families.

 

FUEL, ELECTRICITY AND WATER SUPPLIES

 

The principal raw materials used in our operations are fuels (including fuel oil to power boilers and generators, natural gas for metallurgical processes at our Mexican operations and diesel fuel for mining equipment), electricity and water.  We believe that supplies of fuel, electricity and water are readily available.  Although the prices of these raw materials may fluctuate beyond our control, we focus our efforts to reduce these increased costs through cost and energy saving measures.

 

Peru

 

In Peru, electric power for our operating facilities is generated by two thermal electric plants owned and operated by Energia del Sur, S.A. (“Enersur”), a diesel and

 

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waste heat boilers plant located adjacent to the Ilo smelter and a coal plant located south of Ilo.  Power generation capacity for Peruvian operations is currently 344 megawatts.  In addition, we have nine megawatts of power generation capacity from two small hydro-generating installations at Cuajone.  Power is distributed over a 224-kilometer closed loop transmission circuit.  We obtain fuel in Peru principally from Repsol Comercial S.A.C., a local producer, which forms part of Grupo Repsol YPF of Spain.

 

In 1997, we sold our Ilo power plant to Enersur and entered into a twenty year power purchase agreement.  We and Enersur also entered into an agreement for the sharing of certain services between the power plant and our smelter at Ilo.  These arrangements were amended in 2003, releasing Enersur from its obligations to construct additional capacity to meet our increased electricity requirements.  We believe we can satisfy the need for increased electricity requirements for our Peru operations from other sources, including local power providers.

 

In Peru, we have water concessions for up to 1,950 liters per second for well fields at Huaitire, Vizcachas and Titijones and surface water rights from the Suches lake and two small water courses, namely Quebrada Honda and Quebrada Tacalaya, which together are sufficient to supply the needs of our two operating units at Toquepala and Cuajone.  At Ilo, we have desalinization plants that produce water for industrial and domestic use that we believe are sufficient for our current and projected needs.

 

Mexico

 

In Mexico, fuel is purchased directly or indirectly from Petroleos Mexicanos, (“PEMEX”), the state oil monopoly.  Electricity for our Mexican operations, which is used as the main energy source at our mining complexes, is either purchased from the Comision Federal de Electricidad (the Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE), the state’s electrical power producer, or steam-generated at Mexcobre’s smelter by recovering energy from waste heat boilers.  Accordingly, a significant portion of our operating costs in Mexico are dependent upon the pricing policies of PEMEX and CFE, which reflect government policy as well as international market prices for crude oil, natural gas and conditions in the refinery markets.  Mexcobre imports natural gas from the U.S. through its pipeline (between Douglas, Arizona and Nacozari, Sonora); this permits us to import natural gas from the United States at market prices and thereby reduce operating costs.  A contract with PEMEX provides us with the option of using a fixed price for a portion of our natural gas purchases.

 

In 2007 and 2006, we entered into gas swap contracts to protect part of our gas consumption in both periods.  In 2007 we entered into a gas swap contract for 0.9 million MMBTUs with a fixed price of $7.525 per MMBTU.  In 2006 we entered into a gas swap contract for 3.7 million MMBTUs with a fixed price of $4.2668 per MMBTU.  Related to these contracts we recorded a loss of $0.9 million and a gain of $6.3 million in 2007 and 2006, respectively, which were included in the production cost.

 

In December 2005 we announced our plans for a 450 megawatt power generation plant in Mexico to supply our own facilities.  During 2007 we reformulated this project to increase the plant capacity to 600 megawatt.  Additionally, it is our intention to build this facility in the state of Sonora, Mexico.  We anticipate that the project will be built and managed by an independent power company and our obligation will be the supply of coal and an agreement to use the power output.  We expect this plant will give us the ability to better control the cost of our energy requirements. The project is also expected to create nearly 350 permanent jobs and 3,000 jobs during the construction stage.  It is anticipated that the project will be completed in 2011 and that it will exceed Mexican and international environmental standards.  We have begun a feasibility study for this plant which is expected to be finished by the end of 2008.

 

14



 

In Mexico, water is a national property and industries not connected to a public services water supply must obtain a water concession from Comisión Nacional del Agua (the “National Water Commission”, or “CNA”).  Water usage fees are established in the Ley Federal de Derechos (the Federal Law on Water Rights), which distinguishes several availability zones with different fees per unit of volume according to each zone.  All of our operations have one or several water concessions and, with the exception of Mexicana de Cobre, pump out the required water from one or several wells.  Mexicana de Cobre pumps water from the La Angostura dam, which is close to the mine and plants.  At our Cananea facility, we maintain our own wells and pay the CNA for water measured by usage.  Water conservation committees have been established in each plant in order to conserve and recycle water.  Water usage fees are updated on a yearly basis and have been increasing in recent years.

 

In December 2006, the Federal Water Rights Law was modified effective January 1, 2007. As a result the mining industry now pays for water at 100% of the established water rate instead of the 25% previously paid.  This increased water cost by approximately $15.6 million in 2007.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

 

For a discussion of environmental matters reference is made to the information contained under the caption “Environmental matters” in “Note 14 Commitments and Contingencies” of the Consolidated Combined Financial Statements.

 

MINING RIGHTS AND CONCESSIONS

 

Peru

 

We have 238,183 hectares in concessions from the Peruvian government for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and/or production operations, distributed among our various sites as follows:

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

Cuajone

 

Ilo

 

Other

 

Total

 

 

 

(hectares)

 

Plants

 

300

 

456

 

421

 

 

1,177

 

Operations

 

46,128

 

18,955

 

7,056

 

 

72,139

 

Exploration

 

 

 

 

164,867

 

164,867

 

Total

 

46,428

 

19,411

 

7,477

 

164,867

 

238,183

 

 

We believe that our Peruvian concessions are in full force and effect under applicable Peruvian laws and that we are in compliance with all material terms and requirements applicable to these concessions.  The concessions have indefinite terms, subject to our payment of concession fees of up to $3.00 per hectare annually for the mining concessions and a fee based on nominal capacity for the processing concessions.  Fees paid during 2007, 2006 and 2005 were approximately $1.4 million, $0.8 million and $0.8 million, respectively.  We have two types of mining concessions in Peru: metallic and non-metallic concessions.  We also have water concessions for well fields at Huaitire, Titijones and Vizcachas and surface water rights from the Suches Lake, which together are sufficient to supply the needs of our Toquepala and Cuajone operating units.

 

In June 2004, the Peruvian Congress enacted legislation imposing a royalty charge to be paid by mining companies in favor of the regional governments and communities where mining resources are located.  Under this law, we are subject to a 1% to 3% charge, based on sales, applicable to the value of the concentrates produced in our Toquepala and Cuajone mines.  We made provisions of $62.8 million, $67.2 million and $40.3 million in 2007, 2006 and 2005, respectively, for this charge.  These provisions are included in

 

15



 

cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation, amortization and depletion) on the consolidated combined statement of earnings.

 

Mexico

 

In Mexico we have approximately 483,988 hectares in concessions from the Mexican Government for our exploration and exploitation activities as outlined in the table below.

 

 

 

Underground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mines

 

La Caridad

 

Cananea

 

Projects

 

Total

 

 

 

(hectares)

 

Mine concessions

 

86,386

 

117,164

 

14,144

 

266,294

 

483,988

 

 

 

We believe that our Mexican concessions are in full force and effect under applicable Mexican laws and that we are in compliance with all material terms and requirements applicable to these concessions.  Under Mexican law, mineral resources belong to the Mexican nation and a concession from the Mexican federal government is required to explore or mine mineral reserves.  Mining concessions have a 50-year term that can be renewed for another 50 years.  Holding fees for mining concessions can be from $0.4 to $8.8 per hectare depending on the expedition dates of mining concession.  Fees paid during 2007, 2006 and 2005 were approximately $2.2 million, $2.1 million and $2.1 million, respectively.  In addition, all of our operating units in Mexico have water concessions that are in full force and effect.  We generally own the land to which our Mexican concessions relate, although ownership is not required in order to explore or mine a concession.  We also own all of the processing facilities of our Mexican operations and the land on which they are constructed.

 

 

REPUBLIC OF PERU AND MEXICO

 

Our revenues are derived principally from our operations in Peru and Mexico.  Risks attendant to the Company’s operations in both countries include our operations in those countries associated with economic and political conditions, effects of currency fluctuations and inflation, effects of government regulations and the geographic concentration of the Company’s operations.

 

 

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

 

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  You may read and copy any document we file at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, Washington, D.C. 20549.  Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for information on the Public Reference Room.  The SEC maintains a web-site that contains annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information that issuers (including Southern Copper Corporation) file electronically with the SEC.  The SEC’s web-site is www.sec.gov.

 

Our Internet address is www.southerncoppercorp.com.  Commencing with the Form 8-K dated March 14, 2003, we have made available free of charge on this internet address our annual, quarterly and current reports, as soon as reasonably practical after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.  Our web page includes the Corporate Governance guidelines and the charters of its most important Board Committees.  However, the information found on our website is not part of this or any other report.

 

16



Item 1A. Risk factors

 

Every investor or potential investor in Southern Copper Corporation should carefully consider the following risk factors.

 

General Risks Relating to Our Business

 

Our financial performance is highly dependent on the price of copper and the other metals we produce.

 

Our financial performance is significantly affected by the market prices of the metals that we produce, particularly the market prices of copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver.  Historically, prices of the metals we produce have been subject to wide fluctuations and are affected by numerous factors beyond our control, including international economic and political conditions, levels of supply and demand, the availability and costs of substitutes, inventory levels maintained by users, actions of participants in the commodities markets and currency exchange rates.  In addition, the market prices of copper and certain other metals have on occasion been subject to rapid short-term changes.

 

During the last 15-year period the yearly average price of copper per pound on the COMEX ranged from a low of $0.72 in 2002 to a high of $3.22 in 2007.  The LME copper prices during this period, while slightly different, closely paralleled the COMEX prices.  Molybdenum, zinc and silver during the same 15-year period showed average highs and lows as follows: molybdenum $4.32 per pound, low in 1993 and $31.05 per pound, high in 2005; zinc $0.35 per pound, low in 2002 and $1.49 per pound, high in 2006; and silver $4.30 per ounce, low in 1993 and $13.39 per ounce high in 2007.  Also please see discussion in Item 1, Business, Metal prices.

 

We cannot predict whether metals prices will rise or fall in the future.  A decline in metals prices and, in particular, copper or molybdenum prices, could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition, and we might, in very adverse market conditions, consider curtailing or modifying certain of our mining and processing operations.

 

Changes in the level of demand for our products could adversely affect our product sales.

 

Our revenue is dependent on the level of industrial and consumer demand for the concentrates and refined and semi-refined metal products we sell.  Changes in technology, industrial processes and consumer habits may affect the level of that demand to the extent that changes increase or decrease the need for our metal products.  A change in demand, including any change resulting from economic slow-downs or, recessions, could impact our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Our actual reserves may not conform to our current estimates of our ore deposits and we depend on our ability to replenish ore reserves for our long-term viability.

 

There is a degree of uncertainty attributable to the calculation of reserves.  Until reserves are actually mined and processed, the quantity of ore and grades must be considered as estimates only.  The proven and probable ore reserves data included in this report are estimates prepared by us based on evaluation methods generally used in the mining industry. In December 2006, as a result of an intensive drilling program followed by a review by independent mining consultants, we announced an increase in ore reserves at our Peruvian copper mines.  We may be required in the future to revise our reserves estimates based on our actual production.  We cannot assure you that our

 

17



 

 

actual reserves conform to geological, metallurgical or other expectations or that the estimated volume and grade of ore will be recovered.  Market prices, increased production costs, reduced recovery rates, short-term operating factors, royalty taxes and other factors may render proven and probable reserves uneconomic to exploit and may result in revisions of reserves data from time to time.  Reserves data are not indicative of future results of operations.  Our reserves are depleted as we mine.  We depend on our ability to replenish our ore reserves for our long-term viability.  We use several strategies to replenish and increase our ore reserves, including exploration and investment in properties located near our existing mine sites and investing in technology that could extend the life of a mine by allowing us to cost-effectively process ore types that were previously considered uneconomic.  Acquisitions may also contribute to increased ore reserves and we review potential acquisition opportunities on a regular basis.

 

Our business requires levels of capital expenditures which we may not be able to maintain.

 

Our business is capital intensive.  Specifically, the exploration and exploitation of copper and other metal reserves, mining, smelting and refining costs, the maintenance of machinery and equipment and compliance with laws and regulations require capital expenditures.  We must continue to invest capital to maintain or to increase the amount of copper reserves that we exploit and the amount of copper and other metals we produce.  We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain our production levels to generate sufficient cash, or that we have access to sufficient financing to continue our exploration, exploitation and refining activities at or above present levels.

 

Restrictive covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness and the indebtedness of our Minera Mexico subsidiary may restrict our ability to pursue our business strategies.

 

Our financing instruments and those of our Minera Mexico subsidiary include financial and other restrictive covenants that, among other things, limit our and Minera Mexico’s abilities to incur additional debt and sell assets.  If either we or our Minera Mexico subsidiary do not comply with these obligations, we could be in default under the applicable agreements which, if not addressed or waived, could require repayment of the indebtedness immediately.  Our Minera Mexico subsidiary is further limited by the terms of its outstanding notes, which also restrict the Company’s applicable incurrence of debt and liens.  In addition, future credit facilities may contain limitations on our incurrence of additional debt and liens and on our ability to dispose of assets.

 

Applicable law restricts the payment of dividends from our Minera Mexico subsidiary to us.

 

Minera Mexico is a Mexican company and, as such, may pay dividends only out of net income that has been approved by the shareholders.  Shareholders must also approve the actual dividend payment, after mandatory legal reserves have been created and losses for prior fiscal years have been satisfied.  As a result, these legal constraints may limit the ability of our Minera Mexico subsidiary to pay dividends to us, which in turn, may have an impact on our ability to service debt.

 

Our operations are subject to risks, some of which are not insurable.

 

The business of mining, smelting and refining copper, zinc and other metals is subject to a number of risks and hazards, including industrial accidents, labor disputes, unusual or unexpected geological conditions, changes in the regulatory environment, environmental hazards and weather and other natural phenomena, such as earthquakes. 

 

18



 

 

Such occurrences could result in damage to, or destruction of, mining operations resulting in monetary losses and possible legal liability.  In particular, surface and underground mining and related processing activities present inherent risks of injury to personnel and damage to equipment.  We maintain insurance against many of these and other risks, which may not provide adequate coverage in certain circumstances.  Insurance against certain risks, including certain liabilities for environmental damage or hazards as a result of exploration and production, is not generally available to us or other companies within the mining industry.  Nevertheless recent environmental legal initiatives have considered future regulations regarding environmental damage insurance.  In case such regulations come into force, we will have to analyze the need to obtain such insurance.  We do not have, and do not intend to obtain, political risk insurance.  These or other uninsured events may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

The loss of one of our large customers could have a negative impact on our results of operations.

 

The loss of one or more of our significant customers could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.  In 2007, 2006 and 2005, our largest customer accounted for approximately 12.4%, 10.1% and 11.7%, respectively, of our sales.  Additionally, our five largest customers in each of 2007, 2006 and 2005 collectively accounted for approximately 39.6%, 33.7% and 40.8%, respectively, of our sales.

 

Deliveries under our copper sales agreements can be suspended or cancelled by our customers in certain cases.

 

Under each of our copper sales agreements, we or our customers may suspend or cancel delivery of copper during a period of force majeure.  Events of force majeure under these agreements include acts of nature, labor strikes, fires, floods, wars, transportation delays, government actions or other events that are beyond the control of the parties.  Any suspension or cancellation by our customers of deliveries under our copper or other sales contracts that are not replaced by deliveries under new contracts or sales on the spot market would reduce our cash flow and could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

The copper mining industry is highly competitive.

 

We face competition from other copper mining and producing companies around the world.  We cannot assure you that competition from lower cost producers will not adversely affect us in the future.

 

In addition, mines have limited lives and, as a result, we must periodically seek to replace and expand our reserves by acquiring new properties.  Significant competition exists to acquire properties producing or capable of producing copper and other metals.

 

The mining industry has experienced significant consolidation in recent years, including consolidation among some of our main competitors, as a result of which an increased percentage of copper production is from companies that also produce other products and may, consequently, be more diversified than we are.  We cannot assure you that the result of current or further consolidation in the industry will not adversely affect us.

 

Potential changes to international trade agreements, trade concessions or other political and economic arrangements may benefit copper producers operating in

 

19



 

 

countries other than Peru and Mexico, where our mining operations are currently located.  We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete on the basis of price or other factors with companies that in the future may benefit from favorable trading or other arrangements.

 

Increases in energy costs, accounting policy changes and other matters may adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We require substantial amounts of fuel oil, electricity and other resources for our operations.  Fuel, gas and power costs constitute approximately 40% of our total 2007 production cost.  We rely upon third parties for our supply of the energy resources consumed in our operations.  The prices for and availability of energy resources may be subject to change or curtailment, respectively, due to, among other things, new laws or regulations, imposition of new taxes or tariffs, interruptions in production by suppliers, worldwide price levels and market conditions.  For example, during the 1970s and 1980s, our ability to import fuel oil was restricted by Peruvian government policies that required us to purchase fuel oil domestically from a government-owned oil producer at prices substantially above those prevailing on the world market. In addition, in recent years the price of oil has risen dramatically due to a variety of factors. Disruptions in supply or increases in costs of energy resources could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

We believe our results of operations can, from time to time, be affected by accounting policy changes, such as the 2005 Emerging Issues Task Force, or EITF 04-06, consensus, which required us to include stripping costs incurred during the production phase of a mine in the cost of the inventory produced (extracted) during the period that the stripping costs are incurred.

 

A 2005 Mexican Supreme Court decision reduced our results by requiring increased workers’ profit sharing payments by Minera Mexico’s subsidiaries.  In May 2005, the court rendered a decision that changed the method of computing the amount of statutory workers’ profit-sharing required to be paid by certain Mexican companies, including Minera Mexico.  The court’s ruling in effect prohibited applying net operating loss carryforwards in computing the income used as the base for determining the workers’ profit sharing amounts, as further described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis  of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Other Liquidity Considerations.”

 

Additionally, we expect our future results will continue to be affected by the Peruvian mining royalty charge, which has reduced our earnings since 2004, as further described under Business—Mining Rights and Concessions—Peru.

 

Our results and financial condition are affected by global and local market conditions.

 

We are subject to the risks arising from adverse changes in domestic and global economic and political conditions. For example, the direction and relative strength of the U.S. economy has recently been increasingly uncertain due to softness in the housing markets, the subprime mortgage and credit market turmoil, rising oil prices, difficulties in the financial services sector, and continuing geopolitical uncertainties. Copper purchases from China have significantly contributed to the increased price of copper in recent years. Some observers have expressed concern regarding China’s long term political and economic prospects. If economic growth in the United States and other major consuming countries’ economies is slowed, many customers may delay or reduce purchases of our products or similiar commodities. This could result in reductions in sales of or prices for our products, longer sales cycles, difficulty in collecting sales proceeds, slower spending on capital projects or postponement of the projects, and increased price competition. The U.S.-led economic slowdown and uncertainty about the financial markets may prompt banks to limit lending, which may have an adverse effect on our liquidity and on our ability to carry out our announced capital investment programs.  We cannot

 

20



 

 

provide any assurance that any of these events will not have a material adverse effect on market conditions, prices of our securities, our ability to obtain financing, and our results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may be adversely affected by labor disputes.

 

In the last several years we have experienced a number of strikes or other labor disruptions that have had an adverse impact on our operations and operating results.  See “Business—Employees.”  We could experience labor disputes, work stoppages or other disruptions in production that could adversely affect us. As of December 31, 2007, unions represented approximately 72% of our workforce.

 

Beginning July 2007, our Mexican mines of Cananea, Taxco and San Martin went on strike.  Since January 11, 2008 the Cananea mine is open and is preparing to gradually resume normal operations in the near future.  The mine was reopened based on a ruling by the labor authorities who declared the strike illegal for the second consecutive time.  While the Cananea union later obtained an injunction from a federal judge preventing the Company from firing workers that do not return to work immediately, the same judge did explicitly safeguard the rights of any worker that wishes to return to work at the mine and the right of the Company to conduct operations in the ordinary course of business.

 

During 2006, there were a number of work stoppages at some of our Mexican operations.  While some of these work stoppages were of a short-term nature with little or no production loss, others have been more disruptive.  A strike at the La Caridad copper mine in Sonora began in the first quarter of 2006 and ended in July 2006.  As a result of these strikes, we were forced to declare “force majeure” on certain of our June and July copper contracts. In 2006, we also experienced strikes at our Cananea and San Martin mines.

 

Collective bargaining agreements with the Company’s Peruvian labor unions expired in 2007.  A number of strikes were initiated by the Company’s labor unions, demanding wage increases and better benefits.  In addition, some of the unions went on strike in support of national union strikes.  These strikes were generally of a brief nature and the Company was able to continue normal operations with the support of staff, administrative personnel and contractors.  New collective bargaining agreements, for periods ranging from three to six years were signed with all of the Company’s unions.

 

Environmental, health and safety laws and other regulations may increase our costs of doing business, restrict our operations or result in operational delays.

 

Our exploration, mining, milling, smelting and refining activities are subject to a number of Peruvian and Mexican laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations, as well as certain industry technical standards.  Additional matters subject to regulation include, but are not limited to, concession fees, transportation, production, water use and discharge, power use and generation, use and storage of explosives, surface rights, housing and other facilities for workers, reclamation, taxation, labor standards, mine safety and occupational health.

 

Environmental regulations in Peru and Mexico have become increasingly stringent over the last decade and we have been required to dedicate more time and money to compliance and remediation activities.  Furthermore, Mexican authorities have become more rigorous and strict in enforcing Mexican environmental laws.  We expect additional laws and regulations will be enacted over time with respect to environmental matters.  Recently, Peruvian environmental laws have been enacted imposing closure and remediation obligations on the mining industry.  Moreover, our Mexican operations are also subject to the environmental agreement entered into by 

 

21



 

 

Mexico, the United States and Canada in connection with the North American Free Trade Agreement. We believe our operations are in compliance with all environmental laws and regulations within the areas we operate.

 

The development of more stringent environmental protection programs in Peru and Mexico and in relevant trade agreements could impose constraints and additional costs on our operations and require us to make significant capital expenditures in the future.  We cannot assure you that future legislative, regulatory or trade developments will not have an adverse effect on our business, properties, results of operations, financial condition or prospects.

 

Our metals exploration efforts are highly speculative in nature and may be unsuccessful.

 

Metals exploration is highly speculative in nature, involves many risks and is frequently unsuccessful.  Once mineralization is discovered, it may take a number of years from the initial phases of drilling before production is possible, during which time the economic feasibility of production may change.  Substantial expenditures are required to establish proven and probable ore reserves through drilling, to determine metallurgical processes to extract the metals from the ore and, in the case of new properties, to construct mining and processing facilities.  We cannot assure you that our exploration programs will result in the expansion or replacement of current production with new proven and probable ore reserves.

 

Development projects have no operating history upon which to base estimates of proven and probable ore reserves and estimates of future cash operating costs.  Estimates are, to a large extent, based upon the interpretation of geological data obtained from drill holes and other sampling techniques, and feasibility studies that derive estimates of cash operating costs based upon anticipated tonnage and grades of ore to be mined and processed, the configuration of the ore body, expected recovery rates of the mineral from the ore, comparable facility and equipment operating costs, anticipated climatic conditions and other factors.  As a result, actual cash operating costs and economic returns based upon development of proven and probable ore reserves may differ significantly from those originally estimated.  Moreover, significant decreases in actual or expected prices may mean reserves, once found, will be uneconomical to produce.

 

Our profits may be negatively affected by currency exchange rate fluctuations.

 

The U.S. dollar is our functional currency and our revenues are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars.  However, portions of our operating costs are denominated in Peruvian nuevos soles and Mexican pesos.  Accordingly, when inflation in Peru or Mexico increases without a corresponding devaluation of the nuevo sol or the Mexican peso, our financial position, results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected.  To manage the volatility related to the risk of currency rate fluctuations, we may enter into forward exchange contracts.  We cannot assure you, however, that currency fluctuations will not have an impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our assets, earnings and cash flows are influenced by various currencies due to the geographic diversity of our sales and the countries in which we operate.  As some of our costs are incurred in currencies other than our functional currency, the U.S. dollar, fluctuations in currency exchange rates may have a significant impact on our financial results.  These costs principally include electricity, labor, maintenance, local contractors and fuel.  For the year ended December 31, 2007, a substantial portion of our costs were denominated in a currency other than U.S. dollar.  Operating costs are influenced by the currencies of the countries where our mines and processing

 

22



 

 

plants are located and also by those currencies in which the costs of equipment and services are determined.  The Peruvian nuevo sol, the Mexican peso and the U.S. dollar are the most important currencies influencing our costs.

 

Further, in the past there has been a strong correlation between copper prices and the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar.  A strengthening of the U.S. dollar may therefore be accompanied by lower copper prices, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may be adversely affected by challenges relating to slope stability.

 

Our open-pit mines get deeper as we mine them, presenting certain geotechnical challenges including the possibility of slope failure.  If we are required to decrease pit slope angles or provide additional road access to prevent such a failure, our stated reserves could be negatively affected.  Further, hydrological conditions relating to pit slopes, renewal of material displaced by slope failures and increased stripping requirements could also negatively affect our stated reserves.  We have taken actions in order to maintain slope stability, but we cannot assure you that we will not have to take additional action in the future or that our actions taken to date will be sufficient.  Unexpected failure or additional requirements to prevent slope failure may negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition, as well as have the effect of diminishing our stated ore reserves.

 

Litigation involving Asarco may adversely affect us.

 

Our direct and indirect parent corporations, including AMC and Grupo Mexico, have from time to time been named parties in various litigations involving Asarco LLC (“Asarco”).  In August 2002 the U.S. Department of Justice brought a claim alleging fraudulent conveyance in connection with AMC’s then-proposed purchase of SCC from Asarco.  That action was settled pursuant to a Consent Decree dated February 2, 2003.  In March 2003, AMC purchased its interest in SCC from a subsidiary of Asarco.  In October 2004, AMC, Grupo Mexico, Mexicana de Cobre and other parties, not including SCC, were named in a lawsuit filed in New York State court in connection with alleged asbestos liabilities, which lawsuit claims, among other matters, that AMC’s purchase of SCC from Asarco should be voided as a fraudulent conveyance.  The lawsuit filed in New York State court was stayed as a result of the August 2005 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Asarco, as described below.  However, on November 16, 2007, this lawsuit, after being removed to Federal Court, was transferred to the United States District Court for the Sourthern District of Texas in Brownsville, Texas, for resolution in conjunction with a new lawsuit filed by Asarco, the debtor in possession, as described below.  On February 2, 2007 a complaint was filed by Asarco, the debtor in possession, alleging many of the matters previously claimed in the New York State lawsuit, including that AMC’s purchase of SCC from Asarco should be voided as a fraudulent conveyance. In late December 2004 and early January 2005, three purported class action derivative lawsuits were filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery (New Castle County) relating to the merger transaction between SCC and Minera Mexico. On January 31, 2005, the three actions were consolidated. The consolidated complaint alleges, among other things, that the merger was the result of breaches of fiduciary duties by SCC’s directors and was not entirely fair to SCC and its minority stockholders. The case is currently in the early stages of discovery. The defendants believe that the lawsuit is without merit and are vigorously defending the action. While Grupo Mexico and its affiliates believe that these claims are without merit, we cannot assure you that these or future claims, if successful, will not have an adverse effect on the Company’s parent corporation or the Company.  Any increase in the financial obligations of the Company’s parent corporation, as a result of matters related to Asarco or otherwise could, among other effects, result in the Company’s parent corporation attempting to obtain increased dividends or other funding from the Company.  In 2005, certain subsidiaries of Asarco filed bankruptcy petitions in connection with alleged asbestos liabilities.  In July 2005, the unionized workers of Asarco commenced a work stoppage.  As a result of various factors, including the above-mentioned work stoppage, in August 2005 Asarco filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Asarco’s bankruptcy case is being joined with the bankruptcy cases of its subsidiaries.  Asarco’s bankruptcy could result in additional claims being filed against Grupo Mexico and its subsidiaries, including SCC, Minera Mexico or its subsidiaries.

 

23



 

 

We are controlled by Grupo Mexico, which exercises significant influence over our affairs and policies and whose interests may be different from yours.

 

Grupo Mexico owns indirectly approximately 75% of our capital stock.  Certain of our and Minera Mexico’s officers and directors are also officers of Grupo Mexico.  We cannot assure you that the interests of Grupo Mexico will not conflict with ours.

 

Grupo Mexico has the ability to determine the outcome of substantially all matters submitted for a vote to our stockholders and thus exercises control over our business policies and affairs, including the following:

·                  the composition of our board of directors and, as a result, any determinations of our board with respect to our business direction and policy, including the appointment and removal of our officers;

·                  determinations with respect to mergers and other business combinations, including those that may result in a change of control;

·                  whether dividends are paid or other distributions are made and the amount of any dividends or other distributions;

·                  sales and dispositions of our assets; and

·                  the amount of debt financing that we incur.

 

In addition, we and Minera Mexico have in the past engaged in, and expect to continue to engage in, transactions with Grupo Mexico and its other affiliates which are related party transactions and may present conflicts of interest.  For additional information regarding the share ownership of, and our relationships with, Grupo Mexico and its affiliates, see “Related Party Transactions.”

 

We may pay a significant amount of our net income as cash dividends on our common stock in the future.

 

We have distributed a significant amount of our net income as dividends since 1996.  Our dividend practice is subject to change at the discretion of our Board of Directors at any time.  The amount that we pay in dividends is subject to a number of factors, including our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, tax considerations, future prospects, legal restrictions, contractual restrictions in credit agreements, limitations imposed by the government of Peru, Mexico or other countries where we have significant operations and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.  We anticipate paying a significant amount of our net income as cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future.  Such payments would reduce cash available to meet our debt service obligations.

 

Risks Associated with Doing Business in Peru and Mexico

 

There is uncertainty as to the termination and renewal of our mining concessions.

 

Under the laws of Peru and Mexico, mineral resources belong to the state and government concessions are required in both countries to explore for or exploit mineral reserves.  In Peru, our mineral rights derive from concessions from the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and/or production operations.  In Mexico, our mineral rights derive from concessions granted, on a discretionary basis, by the Secretaria de Economia (Ministry of Economy), pursuant to the Ley Minera (the Mining Law) and regulations thereunder.

 

Mining concessions in both Peru and Mexico may be terminated if the obligations of the concessionaire are not satisfied.  In Peru, we are obligated to pay certain fees for our mining concession.  In Mexico, we are obligated, among other things, to explore or exploit the relevant concession, to pay any relevant fees, to comply with all environmental and safety standards, to provide information to the Ministry of Economy

 

24



 

 

and to allow inspections by the Ministry of Economy.  Any termination or unfavorable modification of the terms of one or more of our concessions, or failure to obtain renewals of such concessions subject to renewal or extensions, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and prospects.

 

Peruvian economic and political conditions may have an adverse impact on our business.

 

A significant part of our operations are conducted in Peru.  Accordingly, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be affected by changes in economic or other policies of the Peruvian government or other political, regulatory or economic developments in Peru.  During the past several decades, Peru has had a history of political instability that has included military coups and a succession of regimes with differing policies and programs.  Past governments have frequently intervened in the nation’s economy and social structure.  Among other actions, past governments have imposed controls on prices, exchange rates and local and foreign investment as well as limitations on imports, have restricted the ability of companies to dismiss employees, have expropriated private sector assets (including mining companies) and have prohibited the remittance of profits to foreign investors.

 

From 1985 through 1990, government policies restricted our ability, among other things, to repatriate funds and import products from abroad.  In addition, currency exchange rates were strictly controlled and all exports sales were required to be deposited in Peru’s Banco Central de Reserva, where they were exchanged from U.S. dollars to the Peruvian currency at less-than-favorable rates of exchange.  These policies generally had an adverse effect on our results of operations. Controls on repatriation of funds limited the ability of our stockholders to receive dividends outside of Peru but did not limit the ability of our stockholders to receive distributions of earnings in Peru.

 

On April 9, 2006, Peruvian citizens participated in the election for president, congress and representatives to the Andean Parliament, to be appointed for the five-year period commencing July 28, 2006.  24 political parties participated in this election process. As none of the presidential candidates received more than 50 percent of the votes, on June 4, 2006 a run-off election between the top two vote getters was held.  On June 16, 2006 the National Office of Electoral Processes proclaimed Mr. Alan Garcia president-elect, thereby bringing the electoral process to an end. Mr. Garcia assumed office on July 28, 2006.  Mr. Garcia, a member of the APRA party, was president of Peru from 1985 to 1990.  At the inauguration an appeal was made to the mining industry for a voluntary contribution for regional development.  In December 2006, the Company signed an agreement with the Peruvian government to make a contribution for this purpose.

 

There is a risk of terrorism in Peru relating to Sendero Luminoso and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, which were particularly active in the 1980s and early 1990s.  We cannot guarantee that acts by these or other terrorist organizations will not adversely affect our operations in the future.

 

Because we have significant operations in Peru, we cannot provide any assurance that political developments in Peru, will not have a material adverse effect on market conditions, prices of our securities, our ability to obtain financing, and our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Mexican economic and political conditions may have an adverse impact on our business.

 

A significant part of our operations are based in Mexico. In the past, Mexico has experienced both prolonged periods of weak economic conditions and dramatic deterioration in economic conditions, characterized by exchange rate instability and

 

25



 

 

significant devaluation of the peso, increased inflation, high domestic interest rates, a substantial outflow of capital, negative economic growth, reduced consumer purchasing power and high unemployment.  An economic crisis occurred in 1995 in the context of a series of internal disruptions and political events including a large current account deficit, civil unrest in the southern state of Chiapas, the assassination of two prominent political figures, a substantial outflow of capital and a significant devaluation of the peso.  We cannot assure you that such conditions will not recur, that other unforeseen negative political or social conditions will not arise or that such conditions will not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

A general election was held in Mexico on July 2, 2006.  On July 6, 2006 preliminary results declared Mr. Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party or PAN, winner of the presidential election. On December 1, 2006 Mr. Felipe Calderon was sworn in as president of Mexico.

 

Because we have significant operations in Mexico, we cannot provide any assurance that political developments in Mexico, will not have a material adverse effect on market conditions, prices of our securities, our ability to obtain financing, and our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Peruvian inflation, reduced economic growth and fluctuations in the nuevo sol exchange rate may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Over the past several decades, Peru has experienced periods of high inflation, slow or negative economic growth and substantial currency devaluation.  The inflation rate in Peru, as measured by the Indice de Precios al Consumidor (Consumer Price Index) and published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica, (National Institute of Statistics and Informatics), has fallen from a high of 7,649.7% in 1990 to 3.9% in 2007.  The Peruvian currency has been devalued numerous times during the last 20 years.  The devaluation rate has decreased from a high of 4,019.3% in 1990 to a revaluation of 6.3% in 2007.  Our revenues are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars and our operating expenses are partly denominated in U.S. dollars.  If inflation in Peru were to increase without a corresponding devaluation of the nuevo sol relative to the U.S. dollar, our financial position and results of operations, and the market price of our common stock, could be affected.  Although the Peruvian government’s stabilization plan has significantly reduced inflation and the Peruvian economy has experienced moderate growth in recent years, we cannot assure you that inflation will not increase from its current level or that such growth will continue in the future at similar rates or at all.

 

Among the economic circumstances that could lead to a devaluation of the nuevo sol is the decline of Peruvian foreign reserves to inadequate levels.  Peru’s foreign reserves at January 31, 2008, were $30.7 billion as compared to $17.3 billion at December 31, 2006.  We cannot assure that Peru will be able to maintain adequate

 

26



 

 

foreign reserves to meet its foreign currency denominated obligations or that Peru will not devalue its currency should its foreign reserves decline.

 

Mexican inflation, restrictive exchange control policies and fluctuations in the peso exchange rate may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Although all of our Mexican operations’ sales of metals are priced and invoiced in U.S. dollars, a substantial portion of our Mexican operations’ cost of sales are denominated in pesos.  Accordingly, when inflation in Mexico increases without a corresponding devaluation of the peso, as it did in 2000, 2001 and 2002, the net income generated by our Mexican operations is adversely affected.

 

The annual inflation rate in Mexico was 3.8% in 2007, 4.1% in 2006 and 3.3% in 2005.  The Mexican government has publicly announced that it does not expect inflation to exceed 3.8% in 2008.  At the same time, the peso has been subject in the past to significant devaluation, which may not have been proportionate to the inflation rate and may not be proportionate to the inflation rate in the future.  The value of the peso increased by 0.1% in 2007, decreased by 1.5% in 2006 and increased by 4.9% in 2005.

 

While the Mexican government does not currently restrict the ability of Mexican companies or individuals to convert pesos into dollars or other currencies, in the future, the Mexican government could impose a restrictive exchange control policy, as it has done in the past.  We cannot assure you that the Mexican government will maintain its current policies with regard to the peso or that the peso’s value will not fluctuate significantly in the future.  The imposition of such exchange control policies could impair Minera Mexico’s ability to obtain imported goods and to meet its U.S. dollar-denominated obligations and could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

 

Developments in other emerging market countries and in the United States may adversely affect the prices of our common stock and our debt securities.

 

The market value of securities of companies with significant operations in Peru and Mexico is, to varying degrees, affected by economic and market conditions in other emerging market countries.  Although economic conditions in such countries may differ significantly from economic conditions in Peru or Mexico, as the case may be, investors’ reactions to developments in any of these other countries may have an adverse effect on the market value or trading price of the securities, including debt securities, of issuers that have significant operations in Peru or Mexico.

 

In addition, in recent years economic conditions in Mexico have increasingly become correlated to U.S. economic conditions.  Therefore, adverse economic conditions in the United States could also have a significant adverse effect on Mexican economic conditions, including the price of our debt securities.

 

We cannot assure you that the market value or trading prices of our common stock and debt securities, will not be adversely affected by events in the United States or elsewhere, including in emerging market countries.

 

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None

 

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Item 2.  Properties

 

We were incorporated in Delaware in 1952.  Our corporate offices in the United States are located at 11811 North Tatum Blvd. Suite 2500, Phoenix, Arizona 85028.  Our telephone number in Phoenix, Arizona is (602) 494-5328.  Our corporate offices in Mexico are located in Mexico City and our corporate offices in Peru are located in Lima.  Our website is www.southerncoppercorp.com. We believe that our existing properties are in good condition and suitable for the conduct of our business.

 

REVIEW OF OPERATIONS

 

The following maps set forth the locations of our principal mines, smelting facilities and refineries.  We operate open-pit copper mines in the southern part of Peru — at Toquepala and Cuajone — and in Mexico, principally at La Caridad and Cananea.  We also operate five underground mines that produce zinc, copper, silver and gold, as well as a coal mine and a coke oven.

 

 

 

EXTRACTION, SMELTING AND REFINING PROCESSES

 

Our operations include open-pit and underground mining, concentrating, copper smelting, copper refining, copper rod production, solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW), zinc refining, sulfuric acid production, molybdenum concentrate production and silver and gold refining.  The extraction and production process are summarized below.

 

 

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OPEN-PIT MINING

In an open-pit mine, the production process begins at the mine pit, where waste rock, leaching ore and copper ore are drilled and blasted and then loaded onto diesel-electric trucks by electric shovels.  Waste is hauled to dump areas and leaching ore is hauled to leaching dumps.  The ore to be milled is transported to the primary crushers.

 

UNDERGROUND MINING

In an underground mine, the production process begins at the stopes, where copper, zinc and lead veins are drilled and blasted and the ore is hauled to the underground crusher station.  The crushed ore is then hoisted to the surface for processing.

 

CONCENTRATING

The copper ore with a copper grade over 0.4% from the primary crusher or the copper, zinc and lead-bearing ore from the underground mines is transported to a concentrator plant where gyratory crushers break the ore into sizes no larger than three-quarters of an inch.  The ore is then sent to a mill section where it is ground to the consistency of fine powder.  The finely ground ore is mixed with water and chemical reagents and pumped as a slurry to the flotation separator where it is mixed with certain chemicals.  In the flotation separator, reagents solution and air pumped into the flotation cells cause the minerals to separate from the waste rock and bubble to the surface where they are collected and dried.

 

If the bulk concentrated copper contains molybdenum it is first processed in a molybdenum plant as described below under “Molybdenum Production.”

 

COPPER SMELTING

Copper concentrates are transported to a smelter, where they are smelted using a furnace, converter and anode furnace to produce either copper blister (which is in the form of cakes with air pockets) or copper anodes (which are cleaned of air pockets).  At the smelter, the concentrates are mixed with flux (a chemical substance intentionally included for high temperature processing) and then sent to reverberatory furnaces producing copper matte and slag (a mixture of iron and other impurities).  Copper matte contains approximately 65% copper.  Copper matte is then sent to the converters, where the material is oxidized in two steps: (i) the iron sulfides in the matte are oxidized with silica, producing slag that is returned to the reverberatory furnaces, and (ii) the copper contained in the matte sulfides is then oxidized to produce copper that, after casting, is called blister copper, containing approximately 98% to 99% copper, or anodes, containing approximately 99.7% copper.  Some of the blister and anode production is sold to customers and the remainder is sent to the refinery.

 

COPPER REFINING

Anodes are suspended in tanks containing sulfuric acid and copper sulfate.  A weak electrical current is passed through the anodes and chemical solution and the dissolved copper is deposited on very thin starting sheets to produce copper cathodes containing approximately 99.99% copper.  During this process, silver, gold and other metals (for example, palladium, platinum and selenium), along with other impurities, settle on the bottom of the tank (anodic slime).  This anodic slime is processed at a precious metal plant where selenium, silver and gold are recovered.

 

 

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COPPER ROD PLANT

To produce copper rod, copper cathodes are first smelted in a furnace and then dosified in a casting machine.  The dosified copper is then extruded and passed through a cooling system that begins solidification of copper into a 60´50 millimeter copper bar.  The resulting copper bar is gradually stretched in a rolling mill to achieve the desired diameter.  The rolled bar is then cooled and sprayed with wax as a preservation agent and collected into a rod coil that is compacted and sent to market.

 

SOLVENT EXTRACTION/ELECTROWINNING (SX/EW)

An alternative to the conventional concentrator/smelter/refinery process is the leaching and SX/EW process.  During the SX/EW process, certain types of low-grade ore with a copper grade under 0.4% are leached with sulfuric acid to allow copper content recovery.  The acid and copper solution is then agitated with a solvent that contains chemical additives that attract copper ions.  As the solvent is lighter than water, it floats to the surface carrying with it the copper content.  The solvent is then separated using an acid solution, freeing the copper.  The acid solution containing the copper is then moved to electrolytic extraction tanks to produce copper cathodes.  Refined copper can be produced more economically (though over a longer period) and from lower grade ore using the SX/EW process instead of the traditional concentrating, smelting and refining process.

 

MOLYBDENUM PRODUCTION

Molybdenum is recovered from copper-molybdenum concentrates produced at the concentrator.  The copper-molybdenum concentrate is first treated with a thickener until it becomes slurry with 60% solids.  The slurry is then agitated in a chemical and water solution and pumped to the flotation separator.  The separator creates a froth that carries molybdenum to the surface but not the copper mineral (which is later filtered to produce copper concentrates containing approximately 27% copper).  The molybdenum froth is skimmed off, filtered and dried to produce molybdenum concentrates of approximately 58% contained molybdenum.

 

ZINC REFINING

Metallic zinc is produced through electrolysis using zinc concentrates and zinc oxides.  Sulfur is eliminated from the concentrates by roasting and the zinc oxide is dissolved in sulfuric acid solution to eliminate solid impurities.  The purified zinc sulfide solution is treated by electrolysis to produce refined zinc and to separate silver and gold, which are recovered as concentrates.

 

SULFURIC ACID PRODUCTION

Sulfur dioxide gases are produced in the copper smelting and zinc roasting processes.  As a part of our environmental preservation program, we treat the sulfur dioxide emissions at two of our Mexican plants and at Peruvian processing facilities to produce sulfuric acid, some of which is, in turn, used for the copper leaching process, with the rest sold to mining and fertilizer companies located in Mexico, Peru, the United States, Chile, Australia, and other countries.

 

SILVER AND GOLD REFINING

Silver and gold are recovered from copper, zinc and lead concentrates in the smelters and refineries, and from slimes through electrolytic refining.

 

 

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The following table sets forth as of December 31, 2007, the locations of production facilities by reportable segment, the processes used, as well as the key production and capacity data for each location:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nominal

 

2007

 

Capacity

Facility Name

 

Location

 

Process

 

Capacity (1)

 

Production

 

Utilization

PERUVIAN OPEN PIT UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mining Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuajone Open-pit Mine

 

Cuajone (Peru)

 

Copper ore milling and recovery, copper and molybdenum concentrate production

 

87.0 ktpd — Milling

 

78.3 ktpd

 

90.2%

Toquepala Open-pit Mine

 

Toquepala (Peru)

 

Copper ore milling and recovery, copper and molybdenum concentrate production

 

60.0 ktpd — Milling

 

58.4 ktpd

 

97.3%

Toquepala SX-EW Plant

 

Toquepala (Peru)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction and cathode electro winning

 

56.0 ktpy — Refined

 

40.3 ktpy

 

72.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilo Copper Smelter

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Copper smelting, blister, anodes production

 

1,200.0 ktpy — Concentrate feed

 

846.2 ktpy

 

70.5%

Ilo Copper Refinery

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Copper refining

 

280 ktpy — Refined cathodes

 

178.4 ktpy

 

63.7%

Ilo Acid Plants

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Sulfuric Acid

 

1,050 ktpy — Sulfuric acid

 

771.3 ktpy

 

73.5%

Ilo Precious Metals Refinery

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Slime recovery & processing, gold & silver refining

 

320 tpy

 

247.0 tpy

 

77.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEXICAN OPEN PIT UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cananea Open-Pit Mine

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper Ore milling & recovery, copper concentrate production

 

76.7 ktpd — Milling

 

59.6  Ktpd

 

77.7%

Cananea SX-EW I, II Plants

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & refined cathode electrowinning

 

54.8 ktpy (combined)

 

34.6 ktpy

 

63.1%

La Caridad Open-Pit Mine

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper ore milling & recovery, copper & molybdenum concentrate production

 

90.0 ktpd — Milling

 

85.8 ktpd

 

95.3%

La Caridad SX-EW Plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & cathode electro winning

 

21.9 ktpy — Refined

 

22.7 ktpy

 

103.7%

 

 

31



 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad Copper Smelter

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Concentrate smelting, anode production

 

1,000 ktpy — Concentrate feed

 

684.8 ktpy

 

68.5%

La Caridad Copper Refinery

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper refining

 

300 ktpy Copper cathode

 

173.3 ktpy

 

57.8%

La Caridad Copper Rod Plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper rod production

 

150 ktpy Copper rod

 

96.6 ktpy

 

64.4%

La Caridad Precious Metals Refinery

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Slime recovery & processing, gold & silver refining

 

2.8 ktpy — Slime

 

0.5 ktpy

 

18.2%

La Caridad Sulfuric Acid Plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Sulfuric acid

 

1,565.5 ktpy — Sulfuric acid

 

674.3 ktpy

 

43.1%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underground Mines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charcas

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Copper, zinc, lead milling, recovery & concentrate production

 

1,460 ktpy — Milled ore

 

1,258.5 ktpy

 

86.2%

San Martin

 

Zacatecas (Mexico)

 

Lead, zinc, copper & silver mining, milling recovery & concentrate production

 

1,606 ktpy — Milled ore

 

625.3 ktpy

 

38.9%

Santa Barbara

 

Chihuahua (Mexico)

 

Lead, copper and zinc mining & concentrates production

 

2,190 ktpy — Milled ore

 

1,450.5 ktpy

 

66.2%

Santa Eulalia

 

Chihuahua (Mexico)

 

Lead & zinc mining and milling recovery & concentrate production

 

547.5 ktpy — Milled ore

 

280.9 ktpy

 

51.3%

Taxco

 

Guerrero (Mexico)

 

Lead, zinc silver & gold mining recovery & concentrate production

 

730 ktpy — Milled ore

 

247.5 ktpy

 

33.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nueva Rosita Coal & Coke Complex(2)

 

Coahuila (Mexico)

 

Clean coal production

 

900 ktpy clean coal

 

41.1 ktpy

 

4.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Luis Potosi Copper Smelter

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Concentrate smelting, blister production

 

230 ktpy concentrate feed

 

48.1 ktpy

 

20.9%

San Luis Potosi Zinc Refinery

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Zinc concentrates refining

 

105.0 ktpy zinc cathode

 

90.8 ktpy

 

86.4%

San Luis Potosi Sulfuric Acid Plant

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Sulfuric acid

 

180.0 ktpy sulfuric acid

 

165.1 ktpy

 

91.7%


Key:

koz =  thousands of ounces

ktpd = thousands of tons per day

ktpy = thousands of tons per year

tpy  = tons per year

 

 

32



 

 

(1)       Our estimates of actual capacity contemplating normal operating conditions with allowance for normal downtime for repairs and maintenance and based on the average metal content for the relevant period.

(2)       At December 31, 2007, the coal reserves for the Nueva Rosita coal were 66,362,623 tons with average sulfur content of 1.78% and a BTU content of 9,054.9 per pound.

(3) At December 31, 2007, net book values of property are as follows: Peruvian operation $1,654.8 million (Cuajone $420.1 million, Toquepala $511.9 million and Ilo and other support facilities $722.8 million), Mexican open pit $1,605.2 million (Cananea $562.6 million, La Caridad $1,042.6 million) and Mexican IMMSA unit $248.5 million (San Luis Potosí $41.1 million, zinc electrolytic refinery $58.9 million, Charcas $6.1 million, San Martin $35.2 million, Santa Barbara $43.3 million, Taxco $7.1 million, Santa Eulalia $14.4 million, Pasta de Conchos and Nueva Rosita $27.9 million and property in progress and other facilities $14.5 million).

 

33



 

SUMMARY OPERATING DATA

 

The following table sets out certain operating data underlying our combined financial and operating information for each of the periods indicated.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

COPPER (thousand pounds):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru open pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

310,560

 

334,605

 

347,130

 

Cuajone

 

401,498

 

384,493

 

360,805

 

SX-EW Toquepala

 

80,844

 

78,935

 

80,464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico open pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad

 

225,443

 

128,024

 

269,662

 

Cananea

 

140,896

 

245,331

 

261,778

 

SX-EW La Caridad

 

50,072

 

24,796

 

48,603

 

SX-EW Cananea

 

76,265

 

115,794

 

124,359

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA Unit

 

19,961

 

23,270

 

28,228

 

Total Mined

 

1,305,539

 

1,335,248

 

1,521,029

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smelted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru open pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blister Ilo

 

20,466

 

67,364

 

713,200

 

Anodes Ilo

 

511,906

 

656,016

 

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico open pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodes La Caridad

 

446,894

 

530,592

 

617,953

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blister IMMSA

 

45,894

 

44,518

 

46,998

 

Total Smelted

 

1,025,160

 

1,298,490

 

1,378,151

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru Open Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathodes Ilo

 

393,297

 

602,520

 

628,769

 

SX-EW Toquepala

 

88,920

 

78,935

 

80,464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico Open Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathodes La Caridad

 

382,152

 

441,705

 

515,179

 

SX-EW La Caridad

 

50,072

 

24,796

 

48,603

 

SX-EW Cananea

 

76,265

 

115,794

 

124,359

 

Total Refined

 

990,706

 

1,263,750

 

1,397,374

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rod Mexico Open Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad

 

212,978

 

212,923

 

249,485

 

Total Rod

 

212,978

 

212,923

 

249,485

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SILVER (thousand ounces)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru Open Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

2,047

 

2,083

 

2,230

 

Cuajone

 

2,219

 

2,141

 

2,261

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico Open Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad

 

1,893

 

1,055

 

2,123

 

Cananea

 

798

 

1,616

 

1,698

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA Unit

 

8,272

 

9,276

 

10,183

 

Total Mined

 

15,229

 

16,171

 

18,495

 

 

 

34



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru Open Pit — Ilo

 

2,657

 

3,831

 

3,533

 

Mexico Open Pit — La Caridad

 

3,539

 

4,211

 

4,583

 

IMMSA Unit

 

3,805

 

4,337

 

4,371

 

Total Refined

 

10,001

 

12,379

 

12,487

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOLYBDENUM (thousand pounds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

13,730

 

12,815

 

11,737

 

Cuajone

 

8,424

 

7,767

 

11,638

 

La Caridad

 

13,578

 

5,514

 

9,260

 

Total Mined

 

35,732

 

26,096

 

32,635

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZINC (thousand pounds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined IMMSA

 

266,787

 

301,133

 

316,603

 

Refined IMMSA

 

200,105

 

112,513

 

223,820

 

 

SLOPE STABILITY:

 

Peruvian Operations

 

The Toquepala and Cuajone pits are approximately 700 meters and 800 meters deep, respectively; under the present mine plan configuration both pits will reach a depth of 1,200 meters.  The deepening pit presents us with a number of geotechnical challenges.  Perhaps the foremost concern is the possibility of slope failure, a possibility that all open pit mines face.  In order to maintain slope stability, in the past we have decreased pit slope angles, installed additional or duplicate haul road access, and increased stripping requirements.  We have also responded to hydrological conditions and removed material displaced by a slope failure.  There is no assurance that we will not have to take these or other actions in the future, any of which may negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition, as well as have the effect of diminishing our stated ore reserves.  To meet the geotechnical challenges relating to slope stability of the open pit mines, we have taken the following steps:

 

In the late 1990’s we hosted round table meetings in Vancouver, B.C. with a group of recognized slope stability and open pit mining specialists.  The agenda for these meetings was principally a review of pit design for mines with greater than 700 meter depth.  The discussions included practices for monitoring, data collection and blasting processes.

 

Based on the concepts defined at the Vancouver meetings, we initiated slope stability studies to define the mining of reserves by optimum design.  These studies were performed by outside consultants and included slope stability appraisals, evaluation of the numerical modeling, slope performance and inter-ramp angle design and evaluation of hydrological conditions.

 

The studies were completed in 2000 and we believe we implemented the study recommendations.  One of the major changes implemented was slope angle reduction at both mines, Toquepala by an average of five degrees and Cuajone by an average of seven degrees.  Although this increased the waste included in the mineable reserve calculation, it also improved the stability of the pits.

 

In the Toquepala mine in 2007 we installed 20 meter wide geotechnical berms every 10 benches. We believe this will further strengthen the stability of the Toquepala pit.

 

 

35



 

 

Since 1998, a wall depressurization program has been in place in both pits.  This consists of a horizontal drilling program, which improves drainage thereby reducing saturation and increasing wall stability.  Additionally, a new blasting control program was put in place, implementing vibration monitoring and blasting designs of low punctual energy.  Also a new slope monitoring system was implemented using reflection prisms, deformation inclinometers and piezometers for water level control, as well as real-time robotic monitoring equipment.

 

To increase the possibility of mining in the event of a slide, we have provided for two ramps of extraction for each open pit mine.

 

While these measures cannot guarantee that a slope failure will not occur, we believe that our mining practices are sound and that the steps taken and the ongoing reviews performed are a prudent methodology for open pit mining.

 

Mexican operations

 

In 2004, our 15-year mine plan study for the La Caridad mine was awarded to an independent consulting firm to conduct a geotechnical evaluation.  The purpose of the plan was to develop a program of optimum bench design and inter-ramp slope angles for the open pit.  A number of recommendations and observations were presented by the consultants. These included a recommendation of a maximum average bench face angle of 72 degrees. Additionally, single benching was recommended for the upper sections of the west, south and east walls of the main pit.  Likewise, double benching was recommended for the lower levels of the main pit and single benching for the upper slope segments that consist of either alluvial material, mine waste dumps or mineralized stockpile material.  Alternatively, slopes in these types of materials, may be designed with an overall 37 degree slope.  We are currently reviewing these recommendations, but since final pit limits have not been yet established at La Caridad, all current pit walls are effectively working slopes. Geostructural and geotechnical data collected at the open pit mine from cell-mapping and oriented-core drilling databases provided the basis for the geotechnical evaluation and recommendations.

 

A geotechnical evaluation, of the Cananea 15-year pit slope design, was prepared by an independent mine consulting firm.  Results of the study included slope design angles by sectors as well as recommendations related to slope stability.  Currently, the mine is in the second phase of a geohydrological study.  This is a follow-up study of a phase 1 open pit dewatering assessment completed by independent water management consultants in 2004.  A third phase of the study, which addresses pit dewatering design, and drilling of peripheral monitoring boreholes and dewatering test wells, will follow and is expected to be completed in 2009.  The recommendations proposed by the consulting firms in Phases 1 and 2, are being implemented.

 

METAL PRODUCTION BY SEGMENTS

 

Set forth below are descriptions of the operations and other information relating to the operations included in each of our three segments.

 

PERUVIAN OPERATIONS

 

Our Peruvian segment operations include the Cuajone and Toquepala mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, industrial railroad which links Ilo, Toquepala and Cuajone and port facilities.

 

Following is a map indicating the approximate location of, and access to, our Cuajone and Toquepala mine complexes as well as our Ilo processing facilities:

 

 

36



 

 

 

Cuajone

 

Our Cuajone operations consist of an open-pit copper mine and a concentrator located in southern Peru, 30 kilometers from the city of Moquegua and 840 kilometers from Lima.  Access to the Cuajone property is by plane from Lima to Tacna (1:20 hours) and then by highway to Moquegua and Cuajone (3:30 hours).  The concentrator has a milling capacity of 87,000 tons per day.  Overburden removal commenced in 1970 and ore production commenced in 1976.  Our Cuajone operations utilize a conventional open-pit mining method to collect copper ore for further processing in our concentrator.

 

The table below sets forth 2007, 2006 and 2005 production information for our Cuajone operations:

 

 

 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

Mine annual operating days

 

(days)

 

365

 

365

 

365

 

Total material mined

 

(kt)

 

116,438

 

112,410

 

109,855

 

Total ore mined

 

(kt)

 

28,310

 

28,299

 

29,544

 

Copper grade

 

(%)

 

0.755

 

0.703

 

0.643

 

Molybdenum grade

 

(%)

 

0.022

 

0.020

 

0.026

 

Leach material mined (1)

 

(kt)

 

-

 

41.6

 

-

 

Leach material grade

 

(%)

 

-

 

0.655

 

-

 

Stripping ratio

 

(x)

 

3.11

 

2.97

 

2.72

 

Total material milled

 

(kt)

 

28,352

 

28,228

 

29,621

 

Copper recovery

 

(%)

 

85.10

 

87.87

 

85.96

 

Molybdenum recovery

 

(%)

 

61.1

 

62.6

 

69.7

 

Copper concentrate

 

(kt)

 

706.7

 

666.7

 

619.2

 

Molybdenum concentrate

 

(kt)

 

7.0

 

6.4

 

9.5

 

Copper concentrates average grade

 

(%)

 

25.77

 

26.16

 

26.43

 

Molybdenum concentrate average grade

 

(%)

 

54.57

 

55.18

 

55.58

 

Copper in concentrate

 

(kt)

 

182.1

 

174.4

 

163.7

 

Molybdenum in concentrate

 

(kt)

 

3.8

 

3.5

 

5.3

 


Key:        kt = thousand tons

 

37



 

                x = ratio obtained dividing waste plus leachable material by ore mined

(1)                      In 2006, 41.6 kt of copper oxides were extracted from the Cuajone mine. No oxide material was mined in 2007 and 2005.

Copper and molybdenum grades are referred to as total copper grade and total molybdenum grade, respectively.

 

Major Cuajone mine equipment includes six 290-ton capacity trucks, twenty 218-ton capacity trucks, eight 231-ton capacity trucks, three 73-ton capacity shovels, one 54-ton capacity shovel, one 23-ton capacity front end loader, four electric drills, seven track dozers, seven rubber track dozers, three front end loaders CAT 988 and 966, and three motor graders.  We continuously improve and renovate our equipment.

 

Geology

 

The Cuajone porphyry copper deposit is located on the western slopes of Cordillera Occidental, in the southern-most Andes Mountains of Peru.  The deposit is part of a mineral district that contains two additional known deposits, Toquepala and Quellaveco. The copper mineralization at Cuajone is typical of porphyry copper deposits.

 

The Cuajone deposit is located approximately 28 kilometers from the Toquepala deposit and is part of the Toquepala Group dated 60 to 100 million years (Upper Cretaceous to Lower Tertiary).  The Cuajone lithology includes volcanic rocks from Cretaceous to Quaternary.  There are 32 rock types including, pre-mineral rocks, balsaltic andesite, porphyritic rhyolite, Toquepala dolerite and intrusive rocks, including diorite, porphyritic latite, breccias and dikes.  In addition, the following post-mineral rocks are present, the Huaylillas formation which appears in the south-southeast side of the deposit and has been formed by conglomerates, tuffs, traquites and agglomerates.  These formations date 17 to 23 million years and are found in the Toquepala Group as discordance.  The Chuntacala formation which dates 9 to 14 million years and is formed by conglomerates, flows, tuffs and agglomerates placed gradually in some cases and in discordance in others.  Also Quaternary deposits are found in the rivers, creeks and hills.  The mineralogy is simple with regular grade distribution and vertically funnel-shaped.  Ore minerals include chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), chalcosine (Cu2S) and molybdenite (MoS2) with occasional galena, tetraedrite and enargite as non economical ore.

 

Exploration in the mine

 

Exploration activities during the drill campaign in 2007 are as follows:

 

Studies

 

Meters

 

Holes

 

Notes

 

Infill Drilling

 

3,293.80

 

25

 

To obtain additional information to improve confidence in our block model

 

Geotechnical Holes

 

1,155.87

 

9

 

To improve geotechnical information

 

Total

 

4,449.67

 

34

 

 

 

 

Concentrator

 

Our Cuajone operations use state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations.  Material with a copper grade over 0.40% is loaded onto rail cars and sent to the milling circuit, where giant rotating crushers reduce the size of the rocks to approximately one-half of an inch.  The ore is then sent to the ball mills, which grind it to the consistency of fine powder.  The finely ground powder is agitated in a water and reagents solution and is then transported to flotation cells.  Air is pumped into the cells to produce foam for floating the copper and molybdenum

 

 

38



 

 

minerals, splitting waste material called tailings. This copper-molybdenum bulk concentrate then is treated by inverse flotation where molybdenum is floated and copper is depressed. The copper concentrate is shipped by rail to the smelter at Ilo and the molybdenum concentrate is packaged for shipment to customers.  Sulfides under 0.40% copper are considered waste.

 

Tailings are sent to thickeners where water is recovered.  The remaining tailings are sent to the Quebrada Honda dam, our principal tailings storage facility.

 

Major Cuajone concentrator plant equipment includes: one primary crusher, three secondary crushers, seven tertiary crushers, ten primary ball mills, four ball mills for re-grinding rougher concentrate; one vertical mill for re-grinding rougher concentrate; thirty 100ft3 cells for rougher flotation; four 160ft3 cells for rougher flotation; five 60ft3 cells for cleaner scavenger; six 1350ftcells for cleaner scavenger; fourteen 300ft3 cells for cleaner scavenger; eight column cells; one Larox filter press; two thickeners for copper-molybdenum and copper concentrates; three  tailings thickeners; one high-rate tailings thickener and six pumps for recycling reclaimed water.

 

A major mill expansion was completed in 1999. We believe the plant’s equipment is in good physical condition and currently in operation.

 

Toquepala

 

Our Toquepala operations consist of an open-pit copper mine and a concentrator.  We also refine copper at the SX/EW facility through a leaching process.  Toquepala is located in southern Peru, 30 kilometers from Cuajone and 870 kilometers from Lima.  Access is by plane from Lima to the city of Tacna (1:20 hours) and then by the Pan-American highway to Camiara (1:20 hours) and by road to Toquepala (1 hour).  The concentrator has a milling capacity of 60,000 tons per day.  The SX/EW facility has a production capacity of 56,000 tons per year of LME grade A copper cathodes.  Overburden removal commenced in 1957 and ore production commenced in 1960.  Our Toquepala operations utilize a conventional open-pit mining method to collect copper ore for further processing in our concentrator.

 

The table below sets forth 2007, 2006 and 2005 production information for our Toquepala operations:

 

 

39



 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

Mine annual operating days

(days)

365

 

365

 

365

 

Total material mined

(kt)

130,267

 

131,607

 

134,505

 

Total ore mined

(kt)

20,889

 

20,813

 

21,224

 

Copper grade

(%)

0.759

 

0.797

 

0.812

 

Molybdenum grade

(%)

0.046

 

0.043

 

0.039

 

Leach material mined

(kt)

90,521

 

42,827

 

16,693

 

Leach material grade

(%)

0.235

 

0.221

 

0.222

 

Estimated leach recovery

(%)

26.89

 

28.44

 

28.24

 

SX/EW cathode production (from SPCC material)

(kt)

36.7

 

35.8

 

36.5

 

Third parties copper sulfate processed

(kt)

15.2

 

 

 

Average copper grade on copper sulfate

(%)

24.16

 

 

 

SX/EW cathode production from third parties

(kt)

3.7

 

 

 

Stripping ratio

(x)

5.24

 

5.32

 

5.34

 

Total material milled

(kt)

20,906

 

20,828

 

21,225

 

Copper recovery

(%)

88.78

 

91.43

 

91.47

 

Molybdenum recovery

(%)

64.39

 

65.0

 

64.6

 

Copper concentrate

(kt)

521.9

 

557.5

 

576.4

 

Molybdenum concentrate

(kt)

11.4

 

10.7

 

9.7

 

Copper concentrate average grade

(%)

26.99

 

27.22

 

27.32

 

Molybdenum concentrate average grade

(%)

54.60

 

54.08

 

54.67

 

Copper in concentrate

(kt)

140.9

 

151.8

 

157.5

 

Molybdenum in concentrate

(kt)

6.2

 

5.8

 

5.3

 


Key:        kt = thousand tons

                x  = ratio obtained dividing waste plus leachable material by ore mined.

Copper and molybdenum grades are referred to as total copper grade and total molybdenum grade, respectively.

 

Major mine equipment at Toquepala includes eighteen 290-ton capacity trucks, five 231-ton capacity trucks, eighteen 218-ton capacity trucks, six 181-ton capacity trucks, one 78-ton capacity shovel, three 73-ton capacity shovels, three 20-ton capacity shovels, five electric rotary drills, one Down the Hole (DTH) drill for pre-split and one front-end loader with a capacity of 37 tons.

 

We continuously improve and renovate our equipment. In 2003, we started a project to install a crushing, conveying and spreading system at the Toquepala mine to improve cost containment and production efficiency.  The new system improves recovery at our leaching facilities and will largely eliminate costly truck haulage in the process.  The conveying system is operating and has positioned 42.5 million tons of waste material to build the ramp and has placed 28.5 million tons of leachable material. Total expended on this project through December 31, 2007 was $80.7 million and it is estimate that $0.4 million will be needed to finalize this project.

 

Presently the crushing, conveying and spreading system are being implemented up to conveyor sixteen at the Toquepala mine.  In 2008 conveyor seventeen will be installed. Actual production for the last six months in 2007 reached 6,650 tons per hour.  This new system improves our cost containment and production efficiency.  During 2007, we put into operation three new Komatsu 930E3 trucks which have improved haul efficiency.

 

Geology

 

The Toquepala porphyry copper deposit is located on the western slopes of Cordillera Occidental, in the southern-most Andes Mountains of Peru.  The deposit is part of a mineral district that contains two additional known deposits, Cuajone and Quellaveco.

 

40



 

The Toquepala deposit is in the southern region of Peru, located on the western slope of the Andes mountain range, approximately 120 kilometers from the border with Chile.  This region extends into Chile and is home to many of the worlds most significant known copper deposits.  The deposit is in a territory with intrusive and eruptive activities of rhyolitic and andesitic rocks which are 70 million years old (Cretaceous-Tertiary) and which created a series of volcanic lava.  The lava is composed of rhiolites, andesites and volcanic agglomerates with a western dip and at an altitude of 1,500 meters.  These series are known as the Toquepala Group.  Subsequently, different intrusive activities occurred which broke and smelted the rocks of the Toquepala Group.  These intrusive activities resulted in diorites, granodiorites and dikes of porphyric dacite.  Toquepala has a simple mineralogy with regular copper grade distribution.  Economic ore is found as disseminated sulfurs throughout the deposit as veinlets, replenishing empty places or as small aggregates.  Ore minerals include chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), chalcosine (Cu2S) and molybdenite (MoS2).  A secondary enrichment zone is also found with thicknesses between 0 and 150 meters.

 

Exploration in the mine

 

Exploration activities during the drill campaign in 2007 are as follows:

 

Studies

 

Meters

 

Holes

 

Notes

 

Infill and lateral body delimitation

 

6,239

 

40.0

 

To obtain additional information to improve confidence in our block model.

 

 

Concentrator

 

Our Toquepala concentrator operations use state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations.  Material with a copper grade over 0.40% is loaded onto rail cars and sent to the crushing circuit, where rotating crushers reduce the size of the rocks to approximately 85% less than one-half of an inch.  The ore is then sent to the rod and ball mills, which grind it in a mix with water to the consistency of fine powder.  The finely ground powder mixed with water is then transported to flotation cells.  Air is pumped into the cells producing a froth, which carries the copper mineral to the surface but not the waste rock, or tailings.  The bulk concentrate with important molybdenum content is processed for recovering Mo by inverse flotation.  Copper final concentrate goes as tailings of the Mo plant.  This final copper concentrate with a content of approximately 27.5% Cu is filtered in order to get 8.5% moisture. Concentrates are then shipped by rail to the smelter at Ilo.

 

Tailings are sent to thickeners where water is recovered.  The remaining tailings are sent to the Quebrada Honda dam, our principal tailings storage facility.

 

Major concentrator plant equipment at Toquepala include one primary crusher, three secondary crushers, six tertiary crushers, eight rod mills, thirty-three ball mills, one distributed control system (DCS), one optimizing control system (OCS), forty-two flotation cells, fifteen column cells, seventy-two Agitair 1.13 m3 cells, two Larox pressure filters, five middling thickeners, two tailings thickeners, three high-rate tailings thickeners, one tripper car, one track tractor and a recycled water pipe line.

 

In order to reduce operating and maintenance costs and to comply with environmental requirements, we replaced the disc filters at the Toquepala concentrator with a new vertical press filter in 2005.

 

41



 

SX/EW Plant

 

The SX/EW facility at Toquepala produces grade A LME electrowon copper cathodes of 99.999% purity from solutions obtained by leaching low-grade ore stored at the Toquepala and Cuajone mines.  The leach plant commenced operations in 1995 with a design capacity of 35,629 tons per year of copper cathodes.  In 1999 the capacity was expanded to 56,000 tons per year.

 

Copper oxides from Cuajone with a copper grade higher than 0.359%, with an acid solubility index higher than 20% and a cyanide solubility index higher than 50% are leached. In Toquepala, the leach material cutoff grade is 0.095% and therefore material with a total copper grade between 0.095% and 0.40% are leached.

 

Major equipment at the Cuajone SX plant includes one primary jaw crusher and one secondary cone crusher with a capacity of 390 tons per hour.  In addition the plant has one agglomeration mill, one front end loader and three 109 ton capacity trucks for hauling to the leach dumps.  Copper in solution produced in Cuajone is sent to Toquepala through an eight-inch pipe laid alongside the Cuajone-Toquepala railroad track.

 

Major equipment at the Toquepala plant includes three spray systems and five pregnant solution (PLS) ponds, each with its own pumping system to send the solution to the SX/EW plant.  The plant also has three lines of SX, each with a nominal capacity of 1,068 m3/hr of pregnant solution and 162 electrowinning cells.

 

Plant and equipment are supported by a maintenance plan and a quality management system to assure good physical condition and high availability.  The SX/EW plant management quality system (including leaching operations) has been audited, by an external audit company, and found to be in compliance with the requirements of the ISO 9001-2000 standard since 2002.

 

Processing Facilities - Ilo

 

Our Ilo smelter and refinery complex is located in the southern part of Peru, 17 kilometers north of the city of Ilo, 121 kilometers from Toquepala, 147 kilometers from Cuajone, and 1,240 kilometers from the city of Lima.  Access is by plane from Lima to Tacna (1:20 hours) and then by highway to the city of Ilo (two hours).  Additionally, we maintain a port facility in Ilo, from which we ship our product and receive supplies.  Product shipped and supplies received are moved between Toquepala, Cuajone and Ilo on our industrial railroad.

 

Smelter

 

Our Ilo smelter provides copper for the refinery we operate as part of the same facility.  Copper produced by the smelter exceeds the refinery’s capacity and the excess is sold to other refineries around the world.  The nominal installed capacity of the smelter is 1,131,500 tons per year.

 

Copper concentrates from Toquepala and Cuajone are transported by railroad to the smelter, where they are smelted using an ISASMELT furnace, converters and anode furnaces to produce copper anodes with 99.7% Cu.  At the smelter, the concentrates are mixed with flux and other material and sent to the ISASMELT furnace producing a mixture of copper matte and slag which is tapped through a taphole to either of two rotary holding furnaces, where this smelted phases will be separated.  Copper matte contains approximately 62% copper.  Copper matte is then sent to the converters, where the material is oxidized in two steps: (1) the iron sulfides in the matte are oxidized with oxygen enriched air and silica is added producing slag that is sent to the slag cleaning

 

42



 

furnaces, and (2) the copper contained in the matte sulfides is then oxidized to produce blister copper, containing approximately 99.3% copper.  The blister copper is refined in the anode furnaces by oxidation to remove sulfur with compressed air injected into the bath.  Finally, the oxygen content of the molten copper is adjusted by reduction with injection of LPG with steam into the bath.  Anodes, containing approximately 99.7% copper are cast in two casting wheels.

 

The table below sets forth 2007, 2006 and 2005 production and sales information for our Ilo smelter plant:

 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

Concentrate smelted (kt)

 

846

 

1,107

 

1,206

 

Average copper recovery

 

96.59

%

97.29

%

97.57

%

Blister production (kt)

 

9.3

 

30.8

 

325.6

 

Average blister grade (%)

 

99.369

%

99.349

%

99.349

%

Anode production (kt)

 

232.9

 

298.4

 

 

Average anode grade (%)

 

99.698

%

99.708

%

 

Sulfuric acid produced (kt)

 

771

 

376

 

370

 

Blister sales (kt)

 

9.3

 

3.0

 

41.5

 

Anode sales (kt)

 

14.1

 

13.5

 

 

Average blister sales price ($/lb)

 

3.20

 

3.10

 

1.87

 

Average anode sales price ($/lb)

 

2.87

 

3.17

 

 


Key:        kt = thousand tons

 

In compliance with an agreement made with the government of Peru, we completely renovated our Ilo smelter.  This modernization was done at a cost of $570 million and completed in January 2007.  Major equipment at our Ilo smelter includes two reverberatory furnaces, seven Pierce Smith converters, one El Teniente converter, two anode furnaces and a twin wheel casting system, a sulfuric acid plant with a capacity of 300,000 tons per year and an oxygen plant with a capacity of 100,000 tons per year.

 

The modernized smelter uses a technology used in many smelters throughout the world. For the fusion process, it utilizes an Isasmelt technology furnace, a stationary vertical furnace 17 meters high, with a treatment capacity of 165 tons of copper concentrates per hour.  The smelter also uses two rotary holding furnaces (RHF) to separate the matte, with 62% copper content, from the slag.  The smelter also has a new oxygen plant, with a production capacity of 1,045 tons per day.  In the conversion process, four Pierce Smith converter furnaces are used to produce copper with 99.3% purity.  This copper product is then sent to the new anodes plant, which has two rotary furnaces of 400 tons capacity each and two casting wheels that produce anodes with 99.7% purity.  The anode plant was completed in 2006 and blister production was mostly replaced with anode production, enabling us to eliminate a costly re-melting step in our production process.

 

In addition, we have built a new sulfuric acid plant to recapture sulfur dioxide in excess of the 92% recapture requirement established in the PAMA.  The new acid plant has a production capacity of 800,000 tons of acid per year.  Also, we have built two storage tanks and an effluents plant.  The new smelter also includes a new seawater intake system, two desalinization plants to provide water for the process, an electric substation and a new system of centralized controls using advanced computer technology.

 

Refinery

 

The refinery consists of a receiving and preparing anodes facilities, an electrolytic plant, a precious metal plant and a number of ancillary installations.  The refinery is producing grade A copper cathode of 99.998% purity.  The nominal capacity is 280,000 tons per year.  Anodic slimes are recovered from the refining process and then sent to

 

43



 

the precious metals facility to produce refined silver, refined gold and commercial grade selenium.

 

Anodes are suspended in tanks containing an aqueous solution of sulfuric acid and copper sulfate.  A low voltage but high amperage electrical current is passed through the anodes, chemical solution and cathodes, in order to dissolve copper which is deposited on initially very thin starting sheets increasing its thickness up to produce high grade copper cathodes containing at least 99.99% copper.  During this process, silver, gold and other metals, including palladium, platinum and selenium, along with other impurities, settle on the bottom of the tank in form of anodic slime.  This anodic slime is processed in a precious metal plant where silver, gold and selenium are recovered.

 

The table below sets forth 2007, 2006 and 2005 production and sales information for our Ilo refinery and precious metals plants:

 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

Cathodes produced (kt)

 

178.4

 

273.3

 

285.2

 

Average copper grade (%)

 

99.998

 

99.998

%

99.998

%

Refined silver produced (000 Kg)

 

82.7

 

119.2

 

109.9

 

Refined gold produced (kg)

 

296.0

 

260.9

 

183.7

 

Commercial grade selenium produced (t)

 

35.4

 

49.8

 

48.7

 

Average cathodes sales price ($/lb)

 

3.20

 

3.20

 

1.79

 

Average silver sales price ($/oz)

 

12.30

 

11.46

 

7.26

 

Average gold sales price ($/oz)

 

692.29

 

589.76

 

447.33

 


Key:        kt= thousands tons

 

Major equipment at the refinery includes one electrolytic plant, with 926 commercial cells, fifty-two starting sheet cells, sixteen primary liberator cells, sixteen secondary liberator cells, an anodic slime treatment circuit (includes leaching and centrifugation), and a crude nickel sulfate production circuit.

 

Main equipment at the precious metals plant includes one selenium reactor, one tilting Copella furnace, twenty-four silver refining cells including an induction furnace for shots and silver ingots production and one hydrometallurgical system for gold recovery.

 

The refinery also has these facilities:

 

·                  Laboratory: Provides sample analysis services throughout the Company, including the analysis of final products like copper cathodes, electrowon cathodes, copper concentrates and oil analysis.

 

·                  Maintenance:  Responsible for maintenance of all equipment involved in the process.

 

·                  Auxiliary facilities: Includes one desalinization plant to produce fresh water and a Babcock boiler to produce steam used in the refinery, one Gonella boiler and two stand-by KMH boilers.

 

Other facilities in Ilo are a coquina plant with a production capacity of 200,000 tons per year of seashells and a lime plant with a capacity of 80,000 tons per year.  We also operate an industrial railroad to haul production and supplies between Toquepala, Cuajone and Ilo.

 

The industrial railroad’s main equipment includes fifteen locomotives of different types including 4000HP EMD’s SD70, 3000HP EMD’s GP40-3, 2250HP GE U23B and others.  The rollingstock has approximately 490 cars of different types and capacities, including ore concentrate cars, gondolas, flat cars, dump cars, boxcars, tank cars and others.  The track runs in a single 214 km standard gauge line and supports a 30-ton axle load.  The

 

44



 

total length of the track system is around 257 kilometers including main yards and sidings.

 

The infrastructure includes 27 kilometers of track under tunnels and one concrete bridge.  The industrial railroad includes a car repair shop which is responsible for maintenance and repair of the car fleet.  During the last nine years a main line upgrade program has been implemented and 115 and 133 pound rail has replaced 90 and 105 pound rail.  Also an upgrade program increasing the capacity of the ore concentrate cars from 70 to 100 net tons is well in progress.  Annual tonnage transported is approximately 5.5 million metric tons.

 

MEXICAN OPERATIONS

 

Following is a map indicating the approximate locations of our Mexican mines and processing facilities:

 

 

MEXICAN OPEN PIT SEGMENT

 

Our Mexican open-pit segment operations combines two units of Minera Mexico, Mexcobre and Mexcananea, which includes La Caridad and Cananea mine complexes and smelting and refining plants and support facilities which service both complexes.

 

45



 

Following is a map indicating the approximate location of, and access to, our Mexican open pit mine complexes as well as our processing facilities:

 

 

Cananea

 

We operate an open-pit copper mine, a concentrator and two SX/EW plants at our Cananea mining complex, located 71 kilometers from La Caridad, Mexico and 61 kilometers south of

 

 

46


 

 

 


the Arizona border on the outskirts of the town of Cananea.  Cananea is connected by paved highways to the city of Agua Prieta in the northeast, to the town of Nacozari in the southeast, and to the town of Imuris in the west.  Cananea is also connected by railway to Agua Prieta and Nogales.  A municipal airport is located approximately 20 kilometers to the northeast of Cananea.

 

The concentrator has a milling capacity of 76,700 tons per day.  The SX/EW facility has a refining capacity of 54,750 tons per year.  The Cananea ore deposit is one of the world’s largest porphyry copper deposits.  Cananea is the oldest continuously operated copper mine in North America, with operations tracing back to 1899.  The ore deposit was originally mined exclusively for underground metals by Anaconda Company between 1917 and early 1940s when the open pit was developed.  In 1990 through a public auction procedure, Mexcananea acquired 100% of the assets for approximately $475 million.  Cananea uses a conventional open-pit mining method to extract copper ore for further processing in our concentrator.  Crushed leachable material is transported by conveyor belts and as run-of-mine by trucks to leach dumps.

 

The following table shows 2007, 2006 and 2005 production information for Cananea:

 

 

 

 

 

2007(2)

 

2006(1)

 

2005

 

Mine annual operating days

 

(days)

 

211

 

331

 

365

 

Total material mined

 

(kt)

 

74,672

 

114,595

 

102,508

 

Total ore mined

 

(kt)

 

12,545

 

22,896

 

25,638

 

Copper grade

 

(%)

 

0.630

 

0.588

 

0.572

 

Leach material mined

 

(kt)

 

39,198

 

59,678

 

52,112

 

Leach material grade

 

(%)

 

0.272

 

0.292

 

0.301

 

Estimated leach recovery

 

(%)

 

65.5

 

62.50

 

50.00

 

SX/EW cathode production

 

(kt)

 

34.6

 

52.5

 

56.4

 

Stripping ratio

 

(x)

 

4.95

 

4.01

 

3.00

 

Total material milled

 

(kt)

 

12,571

 

22,915

 

25,622

 

Copper concentrate

 

(kt)

 

230.5

 

386.0

 

436.5

 

Copper concentrate average grade

 

(%)

 

27.81

 

28.83

 

27.21

 

Copper in concentrate

 

(kt)

 

63.9

 

111.3

 

118.7

 

Copper recovery

 

(%)

 

81.22

 

82.56

 

81.03

 


Key:        kt = thousand tons

                x = ratio obtained dividing waste plus leachable material by ore mined.

                The copper grade is total grade.

(1)          While there were 47 days of strikes in 2006, only 34 production days were lost as 13 days of production were maintained with the support of management personnel.

(2)          During 2007 there were 154 days of illegal work stoppage.  As consequence, the Company lost approximately 55 thousand tons of copper in concentrates and 24 thousand tons of SX/EW cathodes production.

 

Major Cananea mine equipment includes 44 trucks for ore hauling with individual capacities ranging from 240 to 360 tons, eight shovels with individual capacities ranging from 39 to 70 tons, and mine auxiliary equipment including, eight drillers, seven front loaders, five motor graders and twenty-four tractors.

 

Geology

 

The Cananea mining district lies on the southern cordilleran orogen, which extends from southern Mexico to northwestern United States.  It also falls within the Basin and Range metallogenic province.  Geological and structural features in the district are representative of large, disseminated type, porphyry copper deposits.  A calcareous sedimentary sequence of lower Paleozoic age, lithologically correlated with a similar section in southeastern Arizona, uncomformably overlies Precambrian granite basement. 

 

47



 

The entire section was covered by volcanic rocks of Mesozoic age and later intruded by deep seated granodiorite batholith of Tertiary age, with further quartz monzonite porphyry differentiates of Laramide age.

 

Mineralization in the district is extensive covering a surface area of approximately 30 km2.  An early pegmatitic stage associated with bornite-chalcopyrite-molybdenite assemblage was followed by a widespread flooding of hydrothermal solutions with quartz- pyrite-chalcopyrite.  A pervasive quartz-sericite alteration is evident throughout the districts igneous rock fabric.

 

An extensive and economically important zone of supergene enrichment, with disseminated and stockworks of chalcocite (Cu2S), developed below the iron oxide capping.  This zone coincides with the topography and has an average thickness of 300 meters.  A mixed zone of secondary and primary sulfides underlay the chalcocite blanket.  The hypogene mineralization, principally chalcopyrite, (CuFeS2), extensively underlies the orebody.  Molybdenite occurs throughout the deposit and the content tends to increase with depth.

 

The Cananea copper porphyry is considered world-class and unique.  The deepest exploration results in the core of the deposit have confirmed significant increase in copper grades.  Similar porphyry copper deposits usually contain lower grades at depth. The district is also unique for the occurrence of high-grade breccia pipes, occurring in clusters following the trend of the district.

 

Current dimensions of the mineralized orebody are 5 x 3 km2, and projects more than 1 km2 at depth.  Considering the geological and economic potential of the Cananea porphyry copper deposit, it is expected that the operation can support a sizeable increase in copper production capacity.

 

Mine Exploration

 

The exploration program conducted during 2007 continues to expand the limits of the resource and confirmed the presence and distribution of molybdenite in the copper deposit.  Likewise, the core drilling program in the areas adjacent to the deposit was continued in order to define areas where leach and waste will be deposited.  It is expected that exploration will be continued intensively during 2008.  Drilling results in areas adjacent to the deposit are confirming the district-wide mineralization and alteration patterns.  The block model was updated with the in-fill exploratory results, both, for copper and molybdenum and we proceeded to calculate this resource with this new available data.

 

Concentrator

 

Cananea uses state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations.  Material with a copper grade over 0.38% is loaded onto trucks and sent to the milling circuit, where giant rotating crushers reduce the size of the ore to approximately one-half of an inch.  The ore is then sent to the ball and bar mills, which grind it to the consistency of fine powder.  The finely ground powder is agitated in a water and reagents solution and is then transported to flotation cells.  Air is pumped into the cells producing a froth, which carries the copper mineral to the surface but not the waste rock, or tailings.  Recovered copper, with the consistency of froth, is filtered and dried to produce copper concentrates with an average copper content of approximately 28%.  Concentrates are then shipped by rail to the smelter at La Caridad.

 

The Cananea concentrator plant, with a milling capacity of 76,700 tons per day, consists of two primary crushers, four secondary crushers, ten tertiary crushers, ten primary mills, a distributed control system, five mills for re-grinding, 103 primary flotation

 

48



 

cells, ten column cells, seventy exhaustion flotation cells, seven thickeners and three ceramic filters.

 

SX/EW Plant

 

The Cananea unit operates a leaching facility and two SX/EW plants.  All copper ore with a grade lower than the mill cut-off grade 0.38%, but higher than 0.25% copper, is delivered to the leaching dumps.  A cycle of leaching and resting occurs for approximately five years to achieve a 62.5% recovery in the run-of-mine dumps and three years for the crushed leach material to achieve a 73% recovery.

 

The Cananea unit currently maintains 18.2 million cubic meters of pregnant leach solution in inventory with a concentration of approximately 1.82 grams of copper per liter.

 

Major equipment at the SX-EW plants I and II of Cananea includes two crushing systems (No. 1 and No. 2).  Crushing system no. 1 has a capacity of 32,000 tons per day and includes an apron feeder, a conveyor belt feeder, seven conveyor belts system and a distributor car.  Crushing system no. 2 has a capacity of 48,000 tons per day and includes one crusher, a conveyor belt feeder, three conveyor belts and a distributing car.  There are four irrigation systems for the dumps and six dams for the pregnant leach solution (PLS).  Plant I has three solvent extraction tanks with a nominal capacity of 16,000 liters per minute of PLS and 46 electrowinning cells.  Plant I has a daily production capacity of 30 tons of copper cathodes with 99.999% purity.  Plant II has five trains of solvent extraction with a nominal capacity of 55,000 liters per minute of PLS and 216 cells distributed in two bays.  Plant II has a daily production capacity of 120 tons of copper cathodes with 99.9% purity.

 

We intend to increase our Cananea unit’s production of copper cathodes with a new SX/EW plant, (SX/EW III) with an annual capacity of 33,000 tons.  The plant would produce copper cathodes of ASTM grade 1 or LME grade A.  The project includes the installation of storage for deliverables required for operation of the plant and the installation of an emergency power plant and a fire protection system.  Due to labor problems at Cananea in 2007, this project has been temporarily put on hold until we satisfactorily resolve these issues.

 

La Caridad

 

The La Caridad complex includes an open-pit mine, concentrator, smelter, copper refinery, precious metals refinery, rod plant, SX/EW plant, lime plant and two sulfuric acid plants.

 

La Caridad mine and mill are located about 23 kilometers southeast of the town of Nacozari de Garcia in northeastern Sonora.  Nacozari is about 264 kilometers northeast of the Sonora state capital of Hermosillo and 121 kilometers south of the US-Mexico border.  Nacozari is connected by paved highway with Hermosillo and Agua Prieta and by rail with the international port of Guaymas, and the Mexican and United States rail systems.  An airstrip with a reported runway length of 2,500 meters is located 36 kilometers north of Nacozari, less than one kilometer away from the La Caridad copper smelter and refinery.  The smelter and the sulfuric acid plants, as well as the refineries and rod plant, are located approximately 24 kilometers from the mine.  Access is by paved highway and by railroad.

 

The concentrator began operations in 1979, the molybdenum plant was added in 1982, the smelter in 1986, the first sulfuric acid plant in 1988, the SX/EW plant in 1995, the

 

49



 

second sulfuric acid plant in 1997, the copper refinery in 1997, the rod plant in 1998, and the precious metals refinery in 1999.

 

The table below sets forth 2007, 2006 and 2005 production information for La Caridad:

 

 

 

 

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

Mine annual operating days

 

(days)(1)

 

365

 

229

 

364

 

Total material mined

 

(kt)

 

80,819

 

46,606

 

75,465

 

Total ore mined

 

(kt)

 

30,970

 

16,872

 

31,551

 

Copper grade

 

(%)

 

0.408

 

0.449

 

0.483

 

Molybdenum grade

 

(%)

 

0.0377

 

0.0348

 

0.0324

 

Leach material mined

 

(kt)

 

30,017

 

19,109

 

29,969

 

Leach material grade

 

(%)

 

0.252

 

0.252

 

0.260

 

Estimated leach recovery

 

(%)

 

34.44

 

34.39

 

38.54

 

SX/EW cathode production

 

(kt)

 

32.7

 

11.2

 

22.0

 

Total material milled

 

(kt)

 

31,129

 

16,637

 

31,644

 

Stripping ratio

 

(x)

 

1.61

 

1.76

 

1.39

 

Copper concentrate

 

(kt)

 

423.0

 

227.8

 

449.6

 

Molybdenum concentrate

 

(kt)

 

11.2

 

4.5

 

7.4

 

Copper concentrate average grade

 

(%)

 

24.18

 

25.49

 

27.20

 

Molybdenum concentrate average grade

 

(%)

 

54.83

 

55.92

 

56.88

 

Copper in concentrate

 

(kt)

 

102.3

 

58.1

 

122.3

 

Molybdenum in concentrate

 

(kt)

 

6.2

 

2.5

 

4.2

 

Copper recovery

 

(%)

 

80.43

 

77.69

 

79.95

 

Molybdenum recovery

 

(%)

 

52.54

 

43.20

 

40.99

 


Key:        kt = thousand tons

                x = ratio obtained dividing waste plus leachable material by ore mined

                                                (1)   In 2006 there were 125 days of strikes.

The copper and molybdenum grade are total grade.  The molybdenum grade value corresponds to molybdenum disulfide (molybdenite); molybdenum recovery is presently about 52.54%.

 

Major mine equipment includes thirty-two trucks for ore hauling with capacity that range between 170 to 240 tons, eight shovels with individual capac