Table of Contents

 

 

 

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, 2015

 

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

 

GRAPHIC

 

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.)

 

1440 East Missouri Avenue Suite 160 Phoenix, AZ

 

85014

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (602) 264-1375

 

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 15(d) 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 whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).  Yes x  No o

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to 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 the definitions 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

 

Smaller reporting company

o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes o  No x

 

At January 31, 2016, there were of record 773,707,070 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 at June 30, 2015 as reported on the New York Stock Exchange - Composite Transactions) of Southern Copper Corporation held by non-affiliates was approximately $3,257.5  million.

 

PORTIONS OF THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS ARE INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

Part III:

 

Proxy statement for 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders

 

 

 

Part IV:

 

Exhibit Index is on Page 145 through 147

 

 

 



Table of Contents

 

Southern Copper Corporation (“SCC”)

 

INDEX TO FORM 10-K

 

 

 

 

 

Page No.

PART I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1

 

Business

 

3-11

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A

 

Risk factors

 

12-20

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

Item 2

 

Properties

 

22-57

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3

 

Legal Proceedings

 

57

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4

 

Mine Safety Disclosure

 

57

 

 

 

 

 

PART II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

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

 

58-60

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

61-62

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7.

 

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

 

63-87

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

 

88

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

88-138

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountant on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

139-142

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

PART III.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

143-144

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12.

 

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

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

145-148

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

149

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplemental information

 

150-152

 

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PART I

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

 

THE COMPANY

 

Southern Copper Corporation (“SCC”, “Southern Copper” or the “Company”) is one of the largest integrated copper producers in the world. Our major production includes copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver. All of our mining, smelting and refining facilities are located in Peru and Mexico and we conduct exploration activities in those countries and in Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. See Item 2 “Properties - 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 Mexico. We believe we have the largest copper reserves in the world. 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 and Lima Stock Exchanges.

 

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 copper; and the refining of anode copper to produce copper cathodes. As part of this production process, we also produce significant amounts of molybdenum concentrate. Our precious metals plant at the Ilo refinery produces refined silver, gold, and other materials. Additionally, we produce refined copper using solvent extraction/electrowinning technology (“SX-EW”). We operate the Toquepala and Cuajone open-pit mines high in the Andes Mountains, approximately 860 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 in 2005. Minera Mexico engages primarily 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 “La Caridad” unit) operates La Caridad, an open-pit copper mine, a copper ore concentrator, a SX-EW plant, a smelter, refinery and a rod plant. The La Caridad refinery has a precious metals plant which produces refined silver, gold and other materials. Operadora de Minas e Instalaciones Mineras S.A de C.V. (the “Buenavista unit”) operates Buenavista, 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 three SX-EW plants. Industrial Minera Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (together with its subsidiaries, the “IMMSA unit”) operates five underground mines that produce zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, a coal mine and a zinc refinery.

 

We utilize modern, state of the art mining and processing methods, including global positioning systems and computerized mining processes. 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 rod 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 out of our control. Our management, therefore, focuses on cost control and production enhancement to remain profitable. We endeavor to achieve these goals through capital spending programs, exploration efforts and cost reduction programs. Our focus is to remain profitable during periods of low copper prices and on maximizing results in periods of high copper prices. For additional information on the sale prices of the metals we produce, please see “Metal Prices” in this Item 1.

 

Currency Information:

 

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

 

In December, 2015, by law, the name of the Peruvian currency changed from “Nuevo Sol” to “Sol” and its symbol was also modified from “S/.” to “S/”. This change was effective since December 15, 2015.

 

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.

 

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ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

 

The following chart describes our organizational structure, starting with our controlling stockholders, as of December 31, 2015. For clarity of presentation, the chart identifies only our main subsidiaries and eliminates intermediate holding companies.

 

 

We are a majority-owned, indirect subsidiary of Grupo Mexico S.A.B. de C.V. (“Grupo Mexico”). At December 31, 2015, Grupo Mexico through its wholly-owned subsidiary Americas Mining Corporation (“AMC”) owned 88.57% of our capital stock. Grupo Mexico’s principal business is to act as a holding company for the shares of other corporations engaged in the mining, processing, purchase and sale of minerals and other products and railway and other related services.

 

We conduct our operations in Peru through a registered branch (the “SPCC Peru Branch”, “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 (See Note 14 “Stockholders’ Equity” of our consolidated financial statements).

 

In April 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 La Caridad unit (ii) the Buenavista unit and (iii) the IMMSA unit. We own 99.96% of Minera Mexico.

 

In 2008, our Board of Directors (“BOD”) authorized a $500 million share repurchase program that has since been increased by the BOD and is currently authorized to $3 billion. Pursuant to this program, through December 31, 2015 we have purchased 116.6 million shares of our common stock at a cost of $2,846.6 million. These shares are available for general corporate purposes. We may purchase additional shares from time to time, based on market conditions and other factors. This repurchase program has no expiration date and may be modified or discontinued at any time.

 

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REPUBLIC OF PERU AND MEXICO

 

Our revenues are derived primarily from our operations in Peru and Mexico. Risks related to our operations in both countries include those associated with economic and political conditions, the effects of currency fluctuations and inflation, the effects of government regulations and the geographic concentration of our 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 NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for information on the Public Reference Room. The SEC maintains a website 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 website is www.sec.gov.

 

Our Internet address is www.southerncoppercorp.com. Beginning with the Form 8-K dated March 14, 2003, we have made available 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 website also includes the Company’s Corporate Governance guidelines and the charters of our principal Board Committees. However, the information found on our website is not part of this or any other report.

 

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, including taxes, as well as projected demand or supply for the Company’s products. Actual results could differ materially depending upon certain 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, the 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 metal prices on commodity exchanges, which can be volatile.

 

Additional business information follows:

 

COPPER BUSINESS

 

Copper is an important component in the world’s infrastructure. It is the third most widely used metal, next to iron and aluminum. Copper has unique chemical and physical properties, including high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity, and resistance to corrosion that has made it a superior material for use in electrical and electronic products, including power transmission and generation, which accounts for about three quarters of its global copper use, telecommunications, building construction, transportation and industrial machinery. 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 is an internationally traded commodity with prices principally determined by the major metal exchanges, the Commodities Exchange, or “COMEX”, in New York and the London Metal Exchange or “LME.” Copper is usually found in nature in association with sulfur. Pure copper metal is generally produced from a multistage process, beginning with the mining and concentrating of low-grade ores containing copper sulfide minerals, and followed by smelting and electrolytic refining to produce a pure copper cathode. An increasing share of copper is produced from acid leaching of oxidized ores. Copper is one of the oldest metals ever used and has been one of the most important materials in the development of civilization.

 

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BUSINESS REPORTING SEGMENTS:

 

Our management views Southern Copper as having three reportable segments and manages it on the basis of these segments.

 

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

 

Inter-segment sales are based on arm’s 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 data is information regarding the Company’s sales. The segments identified by the Company are:

 

1.              Peruvian operations, which include the Toquepala and Cuajone mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, including a precious metals plant, industrial railroad and port facilities that service both mines. Sales of its products are recorded as revenue of our Peruvian mines. The Peruvian operations produce copper, with production of by-products of molybdenum, silver and other materials.

2.              Mexican open-pit operations, which include the La Caridad and Buenavista mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, including a precious metals plant and a copper rod plant and support facilities that service both mines. Sales of its products are recorded as revenue of our Mexican mines. The Mexican open-pit operations produce copper, with production of by-products of molybdenum, silver and other materials.

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

 

Financial information is regularly prepared for each of the three segments and the results are reported to Senior Management on a segment basis. Senior Management 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 in Item 2 “Properties,” under the captions — “Metal Production by Segments” and “Ore Reserves.”  More information on business segment and segment financial information is included in Note 18 “Segment and Related Information” of our consolidated financial statements.

 

CAPITAL INVESTMENT PROGRAM AND EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES

 

For a description of our capital investment program, see Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Capital Investment Program” and for our exploration activities, see Item 2 “Properties — Explorations Activities.”

 

PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND MARKETS

 

Copper is primarily used in the building and construction industries, in electrical and electronic products and, to a lesser extent, in industrial machinery and equipment, consumer products and in 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, in 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. Thus acquiring annual or other long-term contracts for the sale of our products is a high priority. Generally, 80% to 90% of our metal production is sold under annual or longer-term contracts. Sales prices are determined based on the prevailing commodity prices for the quotation period 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 efforts to diversifying our sales both by region and by customer base. We also strive to provide

 

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superior customer service, including timely deliveries of our products. Our ability to consistently fulfill customer demand is supported by our substantial production capacity.

 

For additional information on sales please see “Revenue recognition” in Note 2 “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” and Note 18 “Segment and Related Information” of our consolidated financial statements.

 

METALS PRICES

 

Prices for our products are principally a function of supply and demand and, with the exception of molybdenum, are established on COMEX and 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. For a further discussion of our products market prices, please see Item 7 “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 per pound copper prices during the last 10 years:

 

 

 

Copper (COMEX)

 

Copper (LME)

 

Year

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

2006

 

4.08

 

2.13

 

3.10

 

3.99

 

2.06

 

3.05

 

2007

 

3.75

 

2.40

 

3.23

 

3.77

 

2.37

 

3.23

 

2008

 

4.08

 

1.25

 

3.13

 

4.08

 

1.26

 

3.16

 

2009

 

3.33

 

1.38

 

2.35

 

3.33

 

1.38

 

2.34

 

2010

 

4.44

 

2.76

 

3.43

 

4.42

 

2.76

 

3.42

 

2011

 

4.62

 

3.05

 

4.01

 

4.60

 

3.08

 

4.00

 

2012

 

3.97

 

3.28

 

3.61

 

3.93

 

3.29

 

3.61

 

2013

 

3.78

 

3.03

 

3.34

 

3.74

 

3.01

 

3.32

 

2014

 

3.43

 

2.84

 

3.12

 

3.37

 

2.86

 

3.11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015-1st Q

 

2.84

 

2.47

 

2.66

 

2.86

 

2.45

 

2.64

 

2015-2nd Q

 

2.95

 

2.59

 

2.77

 

2.92

 

2.56

 

2.75

 

2015-3rd Q

 

2.64

 

2.25

 

2.40

 

2.61

 

2.22

 

2.38

 

2015-4th Q

 

2.43

 

2.02

 

2.20

 

2.42

 

2.05

 

2.22

 

2015

 

2.95

 

2.02

 

2.51

 

2.92

 

2.05

 

2.50

 

 

The per pound COMEX copper price during the last 5 and 10 year periods averaged $3.32 and $3.18, respectively. The per pound LME copper price during the last 5 and 10 year periods averaged $3.31 and $3.17, respectively.

 

The table below shows the high, low and average per-pound, except silver, which is per ounce, market prices for our three principal by-products during the last 10 years:

 

 

 

Silver (COMEX)

 

Molybdenum (Dealer Oxide
Platt’s Metals Week)

 

Zinc (LME)

 

Year

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

High

 

Low

 

Average

 

2006

 

14.85

 

8.82

 

11.54

 

28.20

 

21.00

 

24.75

 

2.10

 

0.87

 

1.49

 

2007

 

15.50

 

11.47

 

13.39

 

33.75

 

24.50

 

30.19

 

1.93

 

1.00

 

1.47

 

2008

 

20.69

 

8.80

 

14.97

 

33.88

 

8.75

 

28.42

 

1.28

 

0.47

 

0.85

 

2009

 

19.30

 

10.42

 

14.67

 

18.00

 

7.83

 

10.91

 

1.17

 

0.48

 

0.75

 

2010

 

30.91

 

14.82

 

20.18

 

18.60

 

11.75

 

15.60

 

1.14

 

0.72

 

0.98

 

2011

 

48.58

 

26.81

 

35.18

 

17.88

 

12.70

 

15.33

 

1.15

 

0.79

 

0.99

 

2012

 

37.14

 

26.25

 

31.19

 

14.80

 

10.90

 

12.62

 

0.99

 

0.80

 

0.88

 

2013

 

32.41

 

18.53

 

23.82

 

11.95

 

9.12

 

10.26

 

0.99

 

0.81

 

0.87

 

2014

 

22.05

 

15.39

 

19.04

 

15.05

 

8.75

 

11.30

 

1.10

 

0.88

 

0.98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015-1st Q

 

18.35

 

15.35

 

16.70

 

9.40

 

7.55

 

8.41

 

0.99

 

0.90

 

0.94

 

2015-2nd Q

 

17.71

 

15.55

 

16.38

 

8.20

 

6.20

 

7.45

 

1.09

 

0.90

 

1.00

 

2015-3rd Q

 

15.73

 

14.05

 

14.87

 

6.25

 

5.40

 

5.75

 

0.95

 

0.72

 

0.84

 

2015-4th Q

 

16.29

 

13.67

 

14.75

 

5.40

 

4.30

 

4.75

 

0.83

 

0.66

 

0.73

 

2015

 

18.35

 

13.67

 

15.68

 

9.40

 

4.30

 

6.59

 

1.09

 

0.66

 

0.88

 

 

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The per ounce COMEX silver price during the last 5 and 10 year periods averaged $24.98 and $19.97, respectively. The per pound Platt’s Metals Week Dealer Oxide molybdenum price during the last 5 and 10 year periods averaged $11.22 and $16.60, respectively. The per pound LME zinc price during the last 5 and 10 year periods averaged $0.92 and $1.01, respectively.

 

COMPETITIVE CONDITIONS

 

Competition in the copper market is based primarily on price and service basis, with price being the most important factor when supplies of copper are ample. Our products compete with other materials, including aluminum and plastics. For additional information, see Item 1A “Risk Factors — The copper mining industry is highly competitive.”

 

LABOR FORCE

 

As of December 31, 2015, we had 13,024 employees, approximately 73% of whom are unionized and represented by 8 different labor unions. In recent years we have experienced a positive labor environment in our operations in Mexico and Peru, which is allowing us to increase productivity as well as helping us achieve the goals of our capital expansion program.

 

Peru

 

72.7% of our 4,602 Peruvian employees were unionized at December 31, 2015. Currently, there are five separate unions, one main union and four smaller unions. In the second quarter of 2015, two of the main unions, which formerly represented the Ilo and Cuajone workers, and one of the minor unions, which formerly represented some Toquepala workers, merged into one new main union. The other four smaller unions represent the balance of workers. Our collective bargaining agreements with all of these unions expired in the second half of 2015. Negotiations for new agreements began in the third quarter of 2015 and were finalized early in 2016, with the signing of new three-year agreements. These agreements include, among other things, annual salary increases of 5% for each of the three years.

 

Employees of the Toquepala and Cuajone units reside in townsites, where we have built 3,700 houses and apartments. We also have 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 townsite and housing complexes include schools, medical facilities, churches, social clubs and recreational facilities. We also provide shopping, banking and other services at the townsites.

 

Mexico

 

73.3% of our 8,316 Mexican employees were unionized at December 31, 2015, represented by three separate unions. Under Mexican law, the terms of employment for unionized workers are 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.

 

Our Taxco and San Martin mines in Mexico have been on strike since July 2007. For a discussion of labor matters reference is made to the information contained under the caption “Labor matters” in Note 13 “Commitments and Contingencies” of the consolidated financial statements.

 

Employees of La Caridad and Buenavista units reside in townsites at Nacozari and Cananea, where we have built approximately 2,000 houses and apartments, and 275 houses and apartments, respectively. Most of the employees of the IMMSA unit 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 townsites and housing complexes include educational and medical facilities, churches, social clubs, shopping centers, banking and other services. Through 2007, the Buenavista unit provided health care services free of charge to employees and retired unionized employees and their families through its own hospital at the Buenavista unit. In 2010, the Company signed an agreement with the Secretary of Health of the State of Sonora to provide these services to its retired workers and their families. The new workers of Buenavista del Cobre will receive health services from the Mexican Institute of Social Security as is the case for all Mexican workers.

 

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FUEL, ELECTRICITY AND WATER SUPPLIES

 

The principal raw materials used in our operations are fuel, electricity and water. We use natural gas to power boilers and generators, and for metallurgical processes at our Mexican operations and diesel fuel to power mining equipment. We believe that sources of fuel, electricity and water are readily available. The prices of these raw materials may fluctuate outside of our control, therefore we focus our efforts to reduce these costs through cost and energy saving measures.

 

Energy is the principal cost in mining, so the concern for its conservation and efficient usage is very important. We have energy management committees at most of our mines, which meet periodically to discuss consumption and to develop measures directed at saving energy. Also, alternative sources are being analyzed at the corporate level, from both traditional and renewable energy sources. This has helped us to develop a culture of energy conservation directed at the sustainability of our operations.

 

Peru:

 

Fuel: In Peru, we obtain fuel primarily from local production. The Company believes that adequate supplies of fuel are available in Peru.

 

Electricity: We currently receive power from Enersur S.A. under a power purchase agreement through April 2017. In June 2014, we entered into a power purchase agreement for 120 megawatt (“MW”) with the state company Electroperu S.A., which will supply energy for our Peruvian operations for twenty years starting on April 17, 2017 and ending on April 30, 2037. In July 2014, we entered into a power purchase agreement for 120MW with a private power generator Kallpa, which will supply energy for our Peruvian operations for ten years starting on April 17, 2017 and ending on April 30, 2027. In addition, we feel confident that additional power can be obtained from the Peruvian national grid, should the need arise.

 

Additionally, 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, which is interconnected with the Peruvian network.

 

Water: We have water rights or licenses for up to 1,950 liters per second from well fields at the Huaitire, Vizcachas and Titijones aquifers and surface water rights from the Suches lake and two small water courses, Quebrada Honda and Quebrada Tacalaya. We believe these water sources are sufficient to supply the needs of our operating units at Toquepala and Cuajone. At Ilo, we have desalination plants that produce water for industrial and domestic use that we believe are sufficient for our current and projected needs.

 

Mexico:

 

Fuel: In Mexico, fuel is purchased directly from Petroleos Mexicanos (“PEMEX”), the state oil monopoly.

 

The La Caridad unit imports natural gas from the United States through its pipeline (between Douglas, Arizona and Nacozari, Sonora), which allows us to import natural gas from the United States at market prices and thereby reduce operating costs.  Several contracts with PEMEX and the United States provide us with the option of using a monthly or daily fixed price for our natural gas purchases.

 

Natural gas is used for metallurgical processes, to power furnaces, converters, casting wheels, boilers and electric generators.  Diesel oil is a backup for all these uses. We use diesel oil to power mining equipment at our operations.

 

Electricity: Electricity is used as the main energy source at our mining complexes. We purchase most of our electricity from Mexico Generadora de Energia S. de R. L. (“MGE”), a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico which has recently completed the construction of the two power plants designed to supply power to some of the Company’s Mexican operations. It is expected that MGE will supply approximately 12% of its power output to third party energy users. These plants are natural gas-fired combined cycle power generating units, with a net total capacity of 516.2 megawatts. In 2012, we entered into a power supply agreement with MGE through 2032. The first plant was completed in June 2013 and the second, in the second quarter of 2014. MGE has the authorization for the interconnection with the Mexican electrical system to start operations at the second plant. The first plant began to supply power to the Company in December 2013, and the second plant began to supply power in June 2015.

 

We also purchase electricity from the Comision Federal de Electricidad (the Federal Electricity Commission or the “CFE”), the state’s electrical power producer. In addition, we recover some energy from waste heat boilers at the La Caridad smelter.

 

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Accordingly, a significant portion of our operating costs in Mexico is dependent upon the pricing policies of CFE, as well as PEMEX, which reflect government policy, as well as international market prices for crude oil, natural gas and conditions in the refinery markets.

 

Water: In Mexico, water is deemed a public property and industries not connected to a public service water supply must obtain a water concession from Comision Nacional del Agua (the National Water Commission or the “CNA”). Water usage fees are established in the Ley Federal de Derechos (the Federal Rights Law), which distinguishes several availability zones with different fees per unit of volume according to each zone, with the exception of Mexicana de Cobre. All of our operations have one or several water concessions and pump out the required water from wells. Mexicana de Cobre pumps water from the La Angostura dam, which is close to the mine and plants. At our Buenavista facility, we maintain our own wells and pay the CNA for water 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 2013, federal law pertaining to water rights was amended to change the method used to determine water usage fees for underground and surface water effective January 1, 2014.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

 

For a discussion of environmental matters reference is made to the information contained under the caption “Environmental matters” in Note 13 “Commitments and Contingencies” of the consolidated financial statements.

 

MINING RIGHTS AND CONCESSIONS

 

Peru:

 

We have 163,079 hectares in concessions from the Peruvian government for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and production operations, at various sites, as follows:

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

Cuajone

 

Ilo

 

Other

 

Total

 

 

 

(hectares)

 

Plants

 

300

 

456

 

421

 

 

1,177

 

Operations

 

22,762

 

21,255

 

4,527

 

35,559

 

84,103

 

Exploration

 

 

 

 

77,799

 

77,799

 

Total

 

23,062

 

21,711

 

4,948

 

113,358

 

163,079

 

 

We believe that our Peruvian concessions are in full force and in 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 2015, 2014 and 2013, were approximately $1.7 million, $1.2 million and $1.2 million, respectively. We have two types of mining concessions in Peru: metallic and non-metallic concessions.

 

In 2011, the Peruvian Congress approved an amendment to the mining royalty charge. The new mining royalty charge is based on operating income margins with graduated rates ranging from 1% to 12% of operating profits, with a minimum royalty charge assessed at 1% of net sales. If the operating income margin is 10% or less, the royalty charge is 1% and for each 5% increment in the operating income margin, the royalty charge rate increases by 0.75%, up to a maximum of 12%. In 2015, 2014 and 2013, we made provisions of $22.9 million, $32.4 million and $34.8 million, respectively.

 

At the same time the Peruvian Congress amended the mining royalty charge, it enacted a new tax for the mining industry. This tax is also based on operating income and its rates range from 2% to 8.4%. For additional information see Note 8 “Income Taxes” to the consolidated financial statements.

 

Mexico:

 

In Mexico we have 527,144 hectares in concessions from the Mexican government for our exploration and exploitation activities as outlined on the table below.

 

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IMMSA

 

La Caridad

 

Buenavista

 

Projects

 

Total

 

 

 

(hectares)

 

Mine concessions

 

185,018

 

102,700

 

93,706

 

145,720

 

527,144

 

 

We believe that our Mexican concessions are in full force and in 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 $8.1 per hectare depending on the beginning date of the mining concession. Fees paid during 2015, 2014 and 2013 were approximately $5.6 million, $5.7 million and $5.6 million, respectively. In addition, all of our operating units in Mexico have water concessions that are in full force and effect. Although ownership is not required in order to explore or mine a concession, we generally own the land related to our Mexican concessions. We also own all of the processing facilities of our Mexican operations and the land on which they are constructed.

 

In December 2013, the Mexican government enacted a new law which, among other things, established a mining royalty charge of 7.5% on earnings before taxes as defined by Mexican tax regulations and an additional royalty charge of 0.5% over gross income from sales of gold, silver and platinum. These charges were effective January 2014 and are deductible for income tax purposes.

 

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

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

 

Financial risks

 

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, these prices have been subject to wide fluctuations and are affected by numerous factors out of 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.

 

In the last three years, approximately 78.0% of our revenues came from the sale of copper, 7.0% came from molybdenum and 9.0% came from silver and zinc. Please see the distribution of our revenues per product on Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” caption “Results of operations — net sales” on page 74.

 

See also historical average price of our products on Item 1 Business caption “Metals prices”.

 

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

 

Our business requires levels of capital investments 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 significant capital investments. We must continue to invest capital to maintain or 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, on our ability to dispose of assets, or on our ability to pay dividends to our common stockholders.

 

We may not continue to 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. In light of our capital investment program and global economic conditions, it is possible that future dividend distributions will be reduced from the levels of recent years.

 

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Operational risks

 

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. We may be required in the future to revise our reserves estimates based on our actual production. We cannot assure you that our actual reserves conform to geological, metallurgical or other expectations or that the estimated volume and grade of ore will be recovered. Market prices of our metals, increased production costs, reduced recovery rates, short-term operating factors, royalty charges 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 increase ore reserves and we review potential acquisition opportunities on a regular basis. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to continue with our strategy to replenish reserves indefinitely.

 

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, weather and other natural phenomena, such as seismic activity. 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 in certain circumstances may not provide adequate coverage. 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 the results of 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 refined, semi-refined metal products and concentrates we sell. Changes in technology, industrial processes and consumer habits may affect the level of 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.

 

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

 

Under our 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 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.

 

Interruptions of energy supply or increases in energy costs and other production costs 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 constituted approximately 32%, 35% and 35% of our total production cost in 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. 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, due to, among other things, new laws or regulations, imposition of new taxes

 

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or tariffs, interruptions in production by suppliers, worldwide price levels and market conditions. Disruptions in energy supply or increases in costs of energy resources or increases of other production costs could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Shortages of water supply, critical parts, equipment and skilled labor may adversely affect our operations and development projects.

 

Our mining operations require significant quantities of water for mining, ore processing and related support facilities. Although each operation currently has sufficient water rights to cover its operational demands, the loss of some or all water rights for any of our mines or operations, in whole or in part, or shortages of water to which we have rights could require us to curtail or shut down mining production and could prevent us from pursuing expansion opportunities. Additionally, we have not yet secured adequate water rights to support all of our announced expansion projects, and our inability to secure those rights could prevent us from pursuing some of those opportunities. In addition, future shortages of critical parts, equipment and skilled labor could adversely affect our operations and development projects.

 

Our Company is subject to health and safety laws which may restrict our operations, result in operational delays or increase our operating costs and adversely affect our financial results of operations.

 

We are required to comply with occupational health and safety laws and regulations in Peru and Mexico where our operations are subject to periodic inspections by the relevant governmental authorities. These laws and regulations govern, among others, health and safety work place conditions, including high risk labor and the handling, storage and disposal of chemical and other hazardous substances. We believe our operations are in compliance in all material respects with applicable health and safety laws and regulations in the countries in which we operate. Compliance with these laws and regulations and new or existing regulations that may be applicable to us in the future could increase our operating costs and adversely affect our financial results of operations and cash flows.

 

Our efforts are focused on the health and safety of our workforce in order to consistently improve performance and compliance through the implementation of occupational health programs, adequate training and safety incentives at our operations. Despite the Company’s efforts, we are not exempt from accidents. These are reported to Mexican and Peruvian authorities as required. Regarding non-fatal accidents, in the last three years, the Company’s Dart rate (rate to measure workplace injuries severe enough to warrant Day Away from work, job Restrictions and/or job Transfers) was much lower than the MSHA Dart rate (the MSHA Dart rate is published by the U.S.’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, and is used as an industry benchmark). Unfortunately, in 2015, we had one fatality in Mexico, a Company employee; and we did not have fatalities in Peru. Also, in 2014, we had five fatalities in Mexico, all Company employees; and three fatalities in Peru, one Company employee and two contractor employees. The amounts paid to the Mexican and Peruvian authorities for reportable accidents did not have an adverse effect on our results. Under Mexican and Peruvian law penalties and fines for safety violations are generally monetary, but in certain cases may lead to the temporary or permanent shutdown of the affected facility or the suspension or revocation of permits or licenses. Also, violations of security and safety laws and regulations in our Peruvian operations can be considered a crime, punishable with a sentence of up to 10 years of prison.

 

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

 

Metals exploration is highly speculative in nature. It involves many risks and is frequently unsuccessful. Once mineralization is discovered, it may take a number of years from the initial phases of drilling until 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 we can 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

 

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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.

 

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. Furthermore, 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.

 

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. As of December 31, 2015, unions represented approximately 73% of our workforce. Currently, we have labor agreements in effect for our Mexican and Peruvian operations.

 

Our Taxco and San Martin mines in Mexico have been on strike since July 2007. It is expected that operations at these mines will remain suspended until these labor issues are resolved.

 

We cannot assure you when these strikes will be settled, or 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.

 

Our mining or metal production projects may be subject to additional costs due to community actions and other factors.

 

In recent years, worldwide mining activity has been pressured by neighboring communities for financial commitments to fund social benefit programs and infrastructure improvements. Our projects in Peru are not exempt from these pressures. Our Tia Maria project in Peru has experienced delays while trying to resolve difference with community groups.

 

It appears that it is becoming a part of the Peruvian mining environment that in order to obtain acceptance from local communities for projects in their localities, demands for substantial investments in community infrastructure and upgrades must be met in order to proceed with the mining projects.

 

We are confident that we will move forward with the Tia Maria project. However, we cannot assure you when and that we will not continue to incur additional costs for community infrastructure and upgrades in order to obtain the approval of current or future mining projects.

 

Environmental, regulatory response to climate change, 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, and 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, the 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.

 

The principal legislation applicable to our Mexican operations is the Federal General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (the “General Law”), which is enforced by the Federal Bureau of Environmental Protection. In 2011, Article 180 of this law was amended to ease the ability of an individual or entity to contest administrative acts, including environmental authorizations,

 

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permits or concessions. As a result, the Company may be subject to more legal actions supported or sponsored by non-governmental groups, interested in halting projects, and not necessarily in protecting the rights of affected communities. Additionally, amendments to the Civil Federal Procedures Code and the enforcement of the Environmental Liability Federal Law may result in more litigation, including suspension of the activities alleged to cause harm and/or economic fines.

 

The Company is subject to Peruvian environmental laws imposing closure and remediation obligations on the mining industry. Under the closure regulations, mines must submit a closure plan that includes the remediation methods, closure cost estimates, methods of control and verification, closure and post-closure plans and financial assurances. Both, estimated costs and remediation work may increase or decrease significantly in the future as a result of changes in closure laws and regulations, changes in engineering designs and technology, permit modifications or updates, changes in mine plans, inflation or other factors as actual remediation spending occurs and could materially impact the amounts charged to operations for remediation.

 

In addition, in 2012 we decided to recognize an estimated asset retirement obligation for our mining properties in Mexico as part of our environmental commitment; even though, there is currently no enacted law, statute, ordinance, or written or oral contract requiring us to carry out mine closure and environmental remediation activities, we believe that a constructive obligation exists. Moreover, our Mexican operations are also subject to the environmental agreement entered into by Mexico, the United States and Canada in connection with the North American Free Trade Agreement. This agreement, as well as new international treaties regarding human rights, contains environmental provisions and initiatives. We believe our operations are in material compliance with all environmental laws and regulations within the areas we operate.

 

Regulatory response to climate change, restrictions, caps, taxes, or other controls on emissions of greenhouse gasses, including on emissions from the combustion of carbon-based fuels, could significantly increase our operating costs. Restrictions on emissions could also affect our customers. A number of governments or governmental bodies have introduced or are contemplating regulatory changes in response to the potential impacts of climate change. These regulatory initiatives will be either voluntary or mandatory and may impact our operations directly or through our suppliers or customers.

 

Our Peruvian operations are affected by environmental regulations which establish stringent air quality standards. The Peruvian environmental agency has designated three atmospheric basins that require further attention to comply with these air quality standards. The Ilo basin is one of these three areas. We expect to join the local government and other stakeholders in the Ilo basin to develop the action plan and evaluate alternatives and their feasibility to achieve these new air quality standards.

 

Additionally, in 2013, the Peruvian government enacted a new soil environmental quality standard applicable to any existing facility or project that generates or could generate risk of soil contamination in its area of operation or influence. The rule applies to new projects as well as existing operations and requires soil testing analysis. We have submitted a report of identified contaminated sites and we are currently awaiting an official response from the Peruvian authorities which will allow us to continue with the next phase of the new quality standard implementation.

 

The potential physical impacts of climate change on our operations are highly uncertain, and would be particular to the geographic location of our facilities. These may include changes in rainfall patterns, water shortages, changing sea levels, changing storm patterns and intensities, and changing temperatures. These effects may adversely impact the cost, production and financial performance of our operations.

 

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 requiring us to make significant investments in the future. We cannot assure you that current or future legislative, regulatory or trade developments will not have an adverse effect on our business, properties, operating results, financial condition or prospects.

 

Our mining and metal production projects may subject us to new risks.

 

Our Company is in the midst of a large expansion program, which may subject us to additional risks of industrial accidents.  While we believe our contractors employ safety standards and other procedures to ensure these projects are completed with proper governance, it is possible that the increased activity occurring at our sites could cause accidents of an environmental nature or danger to human life.

 

In August 2014, our new SX-EW plant in Mexico had an industrial accident caused by a rock slide, coupled with a construction defect in the seal of a pipe at the new leaching system containment dam, which caused a spill of copper sulfate solution in to the

 

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Bacanuchi River, a tributary of the Sonora River.  As a result of this accident the Company absorbed charges of $45.0 million and $91.4 million in its 2015 and 2014 results, respectively. While this is an unusual event in the Company’s history, we cannot offer assurance that an accident related to our project development program will not occur again in the future and cause environmental damage or damage that causes harm or loss of life.

 

Our business depends upon information technology systems which may be adversely affected by disruptions, damage, failure and risks associated with implementation and integration.

 

Our operations depend upon information technology systems which may be subject to disruption, damage or failure from different sources, including, without limitation, installation of malicious software, computer viruses, security breaches, cyber-attacks and defects in design. In recent years, cybersecurity incidents have increased in frequency and include, but are not limited to, malicious software, attempts to gain unauthorized access to data and other electronic security breaches that could lead to disruptions in systems, unauthorized release of confidential or otherwise protected information and the corruption of data. We believe that we have implemented appropriate preventative measures to mitigate potential risks by implementing a certified IT service management system with the necessary controls that are frequently reviewed and tested, including a risk matrix that considers all the possible threats with an impact and probability analysis, actions to avoid or mitigate them and the corresponding testing plan. However, given the unpredictability of the timing, nature and scope of information technology disruptions, we could potentially be subject to manipulation or improper use of our systems and networks, operational delays, the compromising of confidential or otherwise protected information, destruction or corruption of data, security breaches, financial losses from remedial actions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our cash flows, competitive position, financial condition or results of operations.

 

Other risks

 

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

 

Our subsidiary, 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. These legal constraints may limit the ability of Minera Mexico to pay dividends to us, which in turn, may have an impact on our ability to pay stockholder dividends or to service debt.

 

In 2014, our management identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, which could have resulted in material misstatements in our future financial statements and may have adversely affected our business and stock price.

 

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f)). As disclosed in Item 9A “Controls and Procedures,” in 2014, our management identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting related to ineffective design of processes and procedures to restrict access to key financial systems and records to appropriate users.

 

A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement in our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. As a result of the material weakness discussed above, our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as of December 31, 2014. We cannot assure you that additional material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting will not be identified in the future. Although we have implemented remedial measures and corrected the identified material weakness, if additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting are discovered or occur in the future, our consolidated financial statements may contain material misstatements. These misstatements could result in restatements of our consolidated financial statements, cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations, which could result in a default under our debt instruments, reduce our ability to obtain financing, increase the cost of any financing that we obtain or cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could lead to a decline in our stock price.

 

Although we have remedied the ineffectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, we cannot assure that an additional material weakness may occur in the future. For more information relating to our internal control over financial reporting (and disclosure controls and procedures) and the remediation plan taken by us, see Item 9A “Controls and Procedures.”

 

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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 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 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 future 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 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 may benefit from future favorable trading or other arrangements.

 

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. Our industry is cyclical by nature and fluctuates with economic cycles.

 

Weakness in the global economy can be marked by, among other adverse factors, lower levels of consumer and corporate confidence, decreased business investment, lower consumer spending, increased unemployment, reduced income and asset values in many areas, currency volatility and limited availability of credit and access to capital.

 

Concerns over weaknesses in the global economy may prompt our customers to slow down or reduce the purchase of our products. We may experience longer sales cycles, difficulty in collecting sales proceeds, and lower prices for our products. A change in the demand of our products could impact our results of operations and financial condition. We cannot 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 are controlled by Grupo Mexico, which exercises control over our affairs and policies and whose interests may be different from yours.

 

At December 31, 2015, Grupo Mexico owned indirectly 88.6% of our capital stock. Certain of our and Minera Mexico’s officers and directors are also directors and/or officers of Grupo Mexico and/or of its affiliates. We cannot assure you that the interests of Grupo Mexico will not conflict with our minority stockholders.

 

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;

·                  the amount of debt financing that we incur; and

·                  the approval of capital projects.

 

We cannot assure you that increased financial obligations of Grupo Mexico or AMC resulting from financings or for other reasons will not result in our parent corporations obtaining loans, increased dividends or other funding from us.

 

In addition, we 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 Note 17 “Related Party Transactions.”

 

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Unanticipated litigation or negative developments in pending litigation or with respect to other contingencies may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

We are currently, and may in the future become, subject to litigation, arbitration or other legal proceedings with other parties. If decided adversely to the Company, these legal proceedings, or others that could be brought against us in the future, may adversely affect our financial position or prospects. For further detailed discussion of pending litigation, please see Note 13 “Commitment and Contingencies - Litigation matters”.

 

International Risks

 

We are a company with substantial assets located outside of the United States. We conduct production operations in Peru and Mexico and exploration activities in these countries as well as in Chile, Argentina and Ecuador. Accordingly, in addition to the usual risks associated with conducting business in foreign countries, our business may be adversely affected by political, economic and social uncertainties in each of these countries. Such risks include possible expropriation or nationalization of property, confiscatory taxes or royalties, possible foreign exchange controls, changes in the national policy toward foreign investors, extreme environmental standards, etc.

 

Our insurance does not cover most losses caused by the above described risks. Consequently, our production, development and exploration activities in these countries could be substantially affected by factors out of control, some of which could materially and adversely affect our financial position or results of operations.

 

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 and concessions are required in both countries to explore for or exploit mineral reserves. In Peru, our mineral rights derive from concessions from Ministry of Energy and Mines (“MINEM”) for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and/or production operations. In Mexico, our mineral rights derive from concessions granted, on a discretionary basis, by the Ministry of Economy, pursuant to Mexican mining law and regulations thereunder.

 

Mining concessions in both Peru and Mexico may be terminated if the obligations of the concessioner 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 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 the country. During the past several decades, Peru has had 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 investments, as well as limitations on imports, have restricted the ability of companies to dismiss employees and have prohibited the remittance of profits to foreign investors.

 

In more recent years Peru has had political and social stability. The Peruvian government’s economic policies reduced inflation and the Peruvian economy has experienced significant growth. On October 2014 Peru held regional and mayor elections and, in 2016, will hold a new presidential election. Peruvian law prohibits the immediate reelection of the current president.

 

Because we have significant operations in Peru, we cannot provide any assurance that political developments and economic conditions in Peru and/or other factors 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.

 

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Mexican economic and political conditions, as well as drug-related violence, may have an adverse impact on our business.

 

The Mexican economy is highly sensitive to economic developments in the United States, mainly because of its high level of exports to this market. In the last quarter of 2015, the international economy was affected by a general appreciation of the U.S. dollar that was caused by the difference between the growth rhythm and the expectations on the monetary position of the United States regarding the main advanced economies and the majority of emerging economies. Accordingly, the Bank of Mexico expects higher growth in 2016 due to the improved dynamism of the U.S. economy. Gross domestic product grew by 2.1% in 2014 and the Bank of Mexico expects a growth between 1.9% and 2.4% in 2015 and between 2.5% and 3.5% in 2016. Other risks in Mexico are increases in taxes on the mining sector and higher royalties as was enacted in 2013. As has occurred in other metal producing countries, the mining industry may be perceived as a source of additional fiscal revenue.

 

In addition, security institutions in Mexico are under significant stress, as a result of drug-related violence. This situation creates potential risks especially for transportation of minerals and finished products, which affect a small part of our production. However, drug-related violence has had a limited impact on our operations as it has tended to concentrate outside our areas of production. If this were to change, the potential risks to our operations might increase.

 

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

 

Peruvian inflation and fluctuations in the sol exchange rate may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Although the U.S. dollar is our functional currency and our revenues are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars, due to the countries we operate, portions of our operating costs are denominated in Peruvian soles. Accordingly, when inflation or deflation in Peru is not offset by a change in the exchange rate of the sol, our financial position, results of operations, cash flows and the market price of our common stock could be affected.

 

Over the past several years, Peru has experienced one of its best economic periods. Inflation in 2015, 2014 and 2013 was 4.4%, 3.2% and 2.9%, respectively. The value of the sol has devalued against the U.S. dollar 14.2% in 2015, 6.9% in 2014, and 9.6% in 2013. Although the Peruvian government’s economic policy reduced inflation and the economy has experienced significant 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. Additionally a global financial economic crisis, could negatively affect the Peruvian economy.

 

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.

 

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 its costs are denominated in pesos. Accordingly, when inflation in Mexico increases without a corresponding depreciation of the peso, the net income generated by our Mexican operations is adversely affected. The annual inflation rate in Mexico was 2.1% in 2015, 4.1% in 2014 and 4.0% in 2013. The Bank of Mexico has publicly announced a target of 3.0% inflation for 2016.

 

At the same time, the peso has been subject in the past to significant volatility, 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 to the U.S. dollar decreased by 16.9% in 2015, 12.6% in 2014, and 0.5% in 2013.

 

The Mexican government does not currently restrict the ability of Mexican companies or individuals to convert pesos into dollars or other currencies. While we do not expect the Mexican government to impose any restriction or exchange control policies in the future, it is an area we closely monitor. We cannot assure you 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 exchange

 

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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 common stock or 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 1440 East Missouri Avenue Suite 160, Phoenix, Arizona 85014. Our Phoenix telephone number is (602) 264-1375. 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, at La Caridad and Buenavista. 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.

 

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.

 

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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-quarter 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, reagent solutions 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 blister copper (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.  Most of the blister and anode production is sent to the refinery and the remainder is sold to customers.

 

COPPER REFINING

 

Anodes are suspended in tanks with a solution containing water, 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 muds).  This anodic mud is processed at a precious metal plant where selenium, silver and gold are recovered.

 

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”)

 

A complementary processing method is the leaching and SX-EW process.  During the SX-EW process, low-grade sulfides ore and copper oxides 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.

 

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.

 

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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 our Peruvian processing facilities to produce sulfuric acid, some of which is, in turn, used for the copper leaching process, with the balance sold to mining and fertilizer companies located principally in Mexico, Peru, United States and Chile.

 

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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KEY PRODUCTION CAPACITY DATA

 

All production facilities are owned by us.  The following table sets forth as of December 31, 2015, the locations of production facilities by reportable segment, the processes used, as well as the key production and capacity data for each location:

 

Facility Name

 

Location

 

Process

 

Nominal
Capacity (1)

 

2015
Production

 

2015 Capacity
Use (4)

 

PERUVIAN OPEN-PIT UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mining Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuajone open-pit mine

 

Cuajone (Peru)

 

Copper ore milling and recovery, copper and molybdenum concentrate production

 

90.0 ktpd — ore milled

 

86.8

 

96.5

%

Toquepala open-pit mine

 

Toquepala (Peru)

 

Copper ore milling and recovery, copper and molybdenum concentrate production

 

60.0 ktpd — ore milled

 

56.6

 

94.2

%

Toquepala SX-EW plant

 

Toquepala (Peru)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction and cathode electrowinning

 

56.0 ktpy — refined

 

24.2

 

43.2

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilo copper smelter

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Copper smelting, blister, anodes production

 

1,200.0 ktpy — concentrate feed

 

1,143.7

 

95.3

%

Ilo copper refinery

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Copper refining

 

280 ktpy — refined cathodes

 

280.6

 

100.2

%

Ilo acid plants

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Sulfuric acid

 

1,050 ktpy - sulfuric acid

 

1,104.7

 

105.2

%

Ilo precious metals refinery

 

Ilo (Peru)

 

Slime recovery & processing, gold & silver refining

 

320 tpy

 

356.2

 

111.3

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEXICAN OPEN-PIT UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mining Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buenavista open-pit mine Concentrator 1

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper ore milling & recovery, copper concentrate production

 

82.0 ktpd — milling

 

79.4

 

96.9

%

Buenavista open-pit mine Concentrator 2

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper ore milling & recovery, copper concentrate production

 

100.0 ktpd - milling

 

41.9

 

41.9

%

Buenavista SX-EW I plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & refined cathode electrowinning

 

11.0 ktpy - refined

 

6.6

 

60.0

%

Buenavista SX-EW II plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & refined cathode electrowinning

 

43.8 ktpy — refined

 

30.1

 

68.7

%

Buenavista SX-EW III plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & refined cathode electrowinning

 

120.0 ktpy - refined

 

85.9

 

71.6

%

La Caridad open-pit mine

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper ore milling & recovery, copper & molybdenum concentrate production

 

94.5 ktpd — milling

 

94.4

 

99.9

%

La Caridad SX-EW plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Leaching, solvent extraction & cathode electrowinning

 

21.9 ktpy — refined

 

27.2

 

124.2

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad copper smelter

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Concentrate smelting, anode production

 

1,000 ktpy — concentrate feed

 

933.4

 

93.3

%

La Caridad copper refinery

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper refining

 

300 ktpy copper cathode

 

213.4

 

71.1

%

La Caridad copper rod plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Copper rod production

 

150 ktpy copper rod

 

138.2

 

92.1

%

La Caridad precious metals refinery

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Slime recovery & processing, gold & silver refining

 

1.8 ktpy - slime

 

1.1

 

61.1

%

La Caridad sulfuric acid plant

 

Sonora (Mexico)

 

Sulfuric acid

 

1,565.5 ktpy — sulfuric acid

 

972.4

 

62.1

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA UNIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underground mines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charcas

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Copper, zinc, lead milling, recovery & concentrate production

 

1,460 ktpy — ore milled

 

1,039.9

 

71.2

%

 

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San Martin (2)

 

Zacatecas (Mexico)

 

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

 

1,606 ktpy — ore milled

 

 

0

%

Santa Barbara

 

Chihuahua (Mexico)

 

Lead, copper and zinc mining & concentrates production

 

2,190 ktpy — ore milled

 

1,556.7

 

71.1

%

Santa Eulalia

 

Chihuahua (Mexico)

 

Lead & zinc mining and milling recovery & concentrate production

 

547.5 ktpy - ore milled

 

34.6

 

6.3

%

Taxco (2)

 

Guerrero (Mexico)

 

Lead, zinc silver & gold mining recovery & concentrate production

 

730 ktpy - ore milled

 

 

0

%

Nueva Rosita coal & coke complex(3)

 

Coahuila (Mexico)

 

Clean coal production

 

900 ktpy clean coal

 

114.3

 

12.7

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 ktpy coke

 

97.5

 

97.5

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Luis Potosi zinc refinery

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Zinc concentrates refining

 

105.0 ktpy zinc cathode

 

100.6

 

95.8

%

San Luis Potosi sulfuric acid plant

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

 

Sulfuric acid

 

180.0 ktpy sulfuric acid

 

183.7

 

102.1

%

 


ktpd = thousands of tons per day

 

ktpy = thousands of tons per year

 

Tpy = tons per year

 

 

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

(2)   The Taxco and San Martin mines have been on strike since July 2007.

(3)   At December 31, 2015, the coal reserves for the Nueva Rosita coal plant were 100.5 million tons with average sulfur content of 1.49% and a BTU content of 9,485 per pound.

(4)   In some cases, real production exceeds the nominal capacity due to higher grades and recovery rates.

 

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PROPERTY BOOK VALUE

 

At December 31, 2015, net book values of property are as follows (in millions):

 

Peruvian operations:

 

 

 

Cuajone

 

$

511.8

 

Toquepala

 

822.6

 

Tia Maria project

 

361.5

 

Ilo and other support facilities

 

607.6

 

Construction in progress

 

611.8

 

Total

 

$

2,915.3

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican open-pit operations:

 

 

 

Buenavista

 

$

3,331.5

 

La Caridad

 

913.4

 

Construction in progress

 

422.0

 

Total

 

$

4,666.9

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican IMMSA unit:

 

 

 

San Luis Potosi

 

$

97.5

 

Zinc electrolytic refinery

 

93.0

 

Charcas

 

59.4

 

San Martin

 

25.9

 

Santa Barbara

 

81.9

 

Taxco

 

3.0

 

Santa Eulalia

 

43.7

 

Nueva Rosita

 

17.6

 

Construction in progress and other facilities

 

41.2

 

Total

 

$

463.2

 

 

 

 

 

Other property:

 

 

 

El Pilar

 

$

103.9

 

Mexicana del Arco

 

42.7

 

Total

 

$

146.6

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican administrative offices

 

$

70.8

 

 

 

 

 

Total Southern Copper Corporation

 

$

8,262.8

 

 

27



Table of Contents

 

SUMMARY OPERATING DATA

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

2015-2014

 

2014-2013

 

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

Volume

 

%

 

Volume

 

%

 

COPPER (thousand pounds):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

263,291

 

253,152

 

244,031

 

10,139

 

4.0

%

9,121

 

3.7

%

Cuajone

 

392,835

 

393,165

 

371,660

 

(330

)

(0.1

)%

21,505

 

5.8

%

SX-EW Toquepala

 

53,279

 

56,604

 

62,611

 

(3,325

)

(5.9

)%

(6,007

)

(9.6

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad

 

228,974

 

222,803

 

213,545

 

6,171

 

2.8

%

9,258

 

4.3

%

Buenavista

 

357,157

 

292,890

 

255,325

 

64,267

 

21.9

%

37,565

 

14.7

%

SX-EW La Caridad

 

59,883

 

55,583

 

52,636

 

4,300

 

7.7

%

2,947

 

5.6

%

SX-EW Buenavista

 

270,268

 

205,957

 

146,348

 

64,311

 

31.2

%

59,609

 

40.7

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA unit

 

12,330

 

11,488

 

14,136

 

842

 

7.3

%

(2,648

)

(18.7

)%

Total Mined

 

1,638,017

 

1,491,642

 

1,360,292

 

146,375

 

9.8

%

131,350

 

9.7

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smelted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blister Ilo

 

6,174

 

 

3,681

 

6,174

 

N/A

 

(3,681

)

(100

)%

Anodes Ilo

 

747,131

 

670,069

 

711,292

 

77,062

 

11.5

%

(41,223

)

(5.8

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodes La Caridad

 

564,938

 

568,793

 

486,726

 

(3,855

)

(0.7

)%

82,067

 

16.9

%

Total Smelted

 

1,318,243

 

1,238,862

 

1,201,699

 

79,381

 

6.4

%

37,163

 

3.1

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru Open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathodes Ilo

 

618,587

 

568,619

 

597,353

 

49,968

 

8.8

%

(28,734

)

(4.8

)%

SX-EW Toquepala

 

53,279

 

56,604

 

62,611

 

(3,325

)

(5.9

)%

(6,007

)

(9.6

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexico Open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathodes La Caridad

 

470,369

 

450,401

 

414,472

 

19,968

 

4.4

%

35,929

 

8.7

%

SX-EW La Caridad

 

59,883

 

55,583

 

52,636

 

4,300

 

7.7

%

2,947

 

5.6

%

SX-EW Buenavista

 

270,268

 

205,957

 

146,348

 

64,311

 

31.2

%

59,609

 

40.7

%

Total Refined

 

1,472,386

 

1,337,164

 

1,273,420

 

135,222

 

10.1

%

63,744

 

5.0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rod Mexico Open-pit - La Caridad

 

304,634

 

284,569

 

279,546

 

20,065

 

7.1

%

5,023

 

1.8

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SILVER (thousand ounces)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru Open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

1,613

 

1,435

 

1,402

 

178

 

12.4

%

33

 

2.3

%

Cuajone

 

2,269

 

2,588

 

2,190

 

(319

)

(12.3

)%

398

 

18.2

%

Mexico Open-pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caridad

 

2,044

 

2,000

 

1,841

 

44

 

2.2

%

159

 

8.7

%

Buenavista

 

2,367

 

2,024

 

1,910

 

343

 

17.0

%

114

 

6.0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMSA unit

 

4,995

 

4,945

 

6,170

 

50

 

1.0

%

(1,225

)

(19.9

)%

Total Mined

 

13,288

 

12,992

 

13,513

 

296

 

2.3

%

(521

)

(3.9

)%

 

28



Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

2015-2014

 

2014-2013

 

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

Volume

 

%

 

Volume

 

%

 

Refined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peru— Ilo

 

3,408

 

3,479

 

3,221

 

(71

)

(2.0

)%

258

 

8.0

%

Mexico — La Caridad

 

7,659

 

7,237

 

9,343

 

422

 

5.8

%

(2,106

)

(22.5

)%

IMMSA unit

 

2,571

 

2,632

 

3,009

 

(61

)

(2.3

)%

(377

)

(12.5

)%

Total Refined

 

13,638

 

13,348

 

15,573

 

290

 

2.2

%

(2,225

)

(14.3

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOLYBDENUM (thousand pounds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toquepala

 

17,469

 

13,448

 

10,278

 

4,021

 

29.9

%

3,170

 

30.8

%

Cuajone

 

9,797

 

8,821

 

6,907

 

976

 

11.1

%

1,914

 

27.7

%

Buenavista

 

2,071

 

4,893

 

792

 

(2,822

)

(57.7

)%

4,101

 

517.8

%

La Caridad

 

22,136

 

23,810

 

25,887

 

(1,674

)

(7.0

)%

(2,077

)

(8.0

)%

Total Mined

 

51,473

 

50,972

 

43,864

 

501

 

1.0

%

7,108

 

16.2

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZINC (thousand pounds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mined IMMSA

 

136,447

 

146,859

 

219,077

 

(10,382

)

(7.1

)%

(72,218

)

(33.0

)%

Refined IMMSA

 

221,732

 

203,118

 

215,374

 

18,614

 

9.2

%

(12,256

)

(5.7

)%

 

29



Table of Contents

 

SLOPE STABILITY:

 

Peruvian Operations

 

The Toquepala and Cuajone pits are approximately 825 meters and 930 meters deep, respectively. Under the present mine plan configuration the Toquepala pit will reach a depth of 1,635 meters and the Cuajone pit will reach a depth of 1,290 meters. The deepening pits present 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 the past, in order to maintain slope stability, 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 slope failures. To meet the geotechnical challenges relating to slope stability of the open-pit mines, we have taken the following steps:

 

In the late 1990s, 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, at Toquepala by an average of five degrees and at 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 2007, we installed 20 meter wide geotechnical berms every 10 benches at the Toquepala mine. We believe this will further strengthen the stability of the Toquepala pit.

 

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 and pre-split techniques. 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. In October 2012, two interferometric radars were put in place to monitor slope stability at the Toquepala mine, and in September 2013, new full monitoring software (FMS360) was installed. These systems improve the reliability of instrumentation, the information quality for assessing the behavior of the slopes and anticipates the risks of instability.

 

In 2013, a program of oriented geotechnical drilling, totaling 20,000 meters, was executed at the Toquepala mine. This program, which began in May 2013, is part of the slope stability upgrade study and it is being executed by the team of mining consultants, including Itasca S.A., Stacey Mining Geotechnical Ltd. and Piteau Associates. During the execution of this program additional instrumentation has been implemented, including eight vibrating wire piezometers. The study report includes slope stability appraisals, evaluation of the numerical modeling, slope performance and inter-ramp angle design and evaluation of hydrogeological conditions. Additionally, in 2013, 366 meters of geotechnical drilling was executed to install three inclinometers in the instability zone of the west ramp at the Toquepala mine. In 2014, as part of the slope stability upgrade study, the consultants completed the final report for phase 1A of this study, the preliminary structural domains and updated major structure models.

 

In 2015, as part of the slope stability upgrade study, a geotechnical and hydrological oriented drill program of 11,451 meters was executed at the Toquepala mine. This program was conducted in order to complement the study and to get a better understanding of the behavior of the rock mass. The geotechnical drilling program involved 22 diamond drill holes, 14 geotechnical drills and eight hydrogeological drills, all of them with geological and geotechnical logging. During the execution of these hydrogeological drills, permeability tests in the rock were executed as well as slug tests and constant load tests. Additionally, instrumentation was implemented with eight vibrating wire piezometers for the monitoring of water table and to give support to the hydrogeological model. Also in 2015, the consultants Itasca S.A and Piteau Associates completed the report for phase two of this study. They submitted and updated the block model with geotechnical parameters for the slope mine design.

 

30



Table of Contents

 

In 2013, a mining consulting group began a study of dump stability at the Toquepala mine. This study is assessing the current stability of the dumps and is developing a geotechnical campaign to obtain information to assess the stability of the future and final stages of the dumps. In 2015, continuing with the study of dump stability at the Toquepala mine, the program of geotechnical investigation for the dumps and leach pads was planned. This program involves seven drills and 60 test pits with permeability and test penetration in soil, to obtain geotechnical parameters for the study.

 

In 2015, a geotechnical drilling program of 301 meters was executed in Quebrada Honda tailing dam. This program involved twelve drills with their respective inclinometers instrumentation, vibrating wire and open tube piezometers. Additionally, we executed geotechnical instrumentation in the side dam of Quebrada Honda.

 

At the Cuajone mine, in 2007 in order to minimize the damage to the slopes caused by production blast vibrations, blasting control using three pre-split drills was implemented. Also, the slope monitoring system with reflection prisms has been replaced by a system using slope monitoring radar. In February 2012, the first radar equipment was put in service followed in August 2013 with the second radar installation and a geotechnical surveillance camera was added. This new system improves the reliability and continuity of monitoring, improves the quality of information used to evaluate the performance of the slopes and helps better anticipate the risk of instability. The sub-surface deformation and the water level are still monitored with inclinometers and piezometers. In September 2012, we completed a program of oriented geotechnical drilling totaling 17,938 meters, and in May 2013 we completed a program of vertical geotechnical drilling totaling 2,814 meters, with hydraulic tests performed on rock and subsequently instrumented with inclinometers/piezometers. The geotechnical and hydraulic information obtained from the two programs will be used in the development of a geotechnical study for the new 15 year mine development plan (2015-2029). Also during 2013, we drilled 772 meters of sub-horizontal holes in order to drain the east slope of the pit. The geotechnical study for the new 15-year mine development plan was completed at the end of 2015 and the result of this study is the increase by an average of 3 degrees of the inter ramp angle and include 40 meters wide geotechnical berms for inter ramp heights above 150 meters. This study also contains recommendations for improving the stability of the pit slopes.

 

In 2013, the Board of Directors approved a project to improve slope stability at the south area of the Cuajone mine, which will remove approximately 148 million tons of waste material in order to improve the mine design without reducing our actual production level. As of December 31, 2015, 47.9 million tons of waste material have been removed. For further information see Item 7 “Management Discussion and Analysis — Capital Investment Program.”

 

To increase the possibility of mining in the event of a slide, we have provided for two extraction ramps 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. The results of the evaluation presented by the consultants 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. The geostructural and geotechnical parameters recommended were applied in the pit design for the new life of the mine plan for La Caridad mine prepared in 2015. This mine plan replaced the 15-year mine plan prepared in 2010. However, 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. We continue to collect new information related to geotechnical data and other geology features from the mine pit and diamond drill hole, in order to ensure the structural security and also to improve the geotechnical data base for future studies.

 

At the Buenavista mine, we are following the recommendations of a geotechnical evaluation of design slope for the 15-year pit plan. This evaluation was prepared by an independent mine consulting firm. This evaluation included the determination of optimum pit slope design angles and bench design parameters for the proposed mine plan. The objective of the study was: (1) to determine optimum inter-ramp slope angles and bench design parameters for the 15-year plan and (2) to identify and analyze any

 

31



Table of Contents

 

potential major instability that could adversely impact mine operation. In 2012, we installed a radar system to monitor the walls of the mine.

 

The following recommendations were made for the Buenavista mine: inter-ramp slope design angles for the 15-year pit plan, for all of the 21 design sectors, defined on a rock-fabric-based catch bench analysis, using double bench, can range from 48° and 55°, and the inter-ramp slope angles are based on geometries that resulted from the back-break analysis using 80% reliability of achieving the required 7.5 meter catch bench width for a single bench configuration and 10.6 meter catch bench width for a double bench configuration. Preliminary observations suggest the 15-year pit walls may be relative free-draining, the back-break analysis assumed depressurized conditions of mine benches, and the inter-ramp stability analysis were performed for both, saturated and depressurized conditions.

 

A pit dewatering/depressurization plan for the Buenavista mine was also recommended to address the issues of open-pit drainage, dewatering plan and future slope depressurization. Phase I of the geohydrological study was completed by an independent consultant. The analysis included a preliminary assessment and work plan implementations.

 

In 2011, five wells for extraction and monitoring were drilled close to the mine. Also, we began a drilling program to monitor possible water filtration beyond the limits of the open-pit mine. All the information obtained from these well drilling programs has been analyzed and included in the hydrologic model. The open-pit dewatering program from the bottom benches also continued during 2012 with a drilling program of 3,797 meters in several monitoring wells in order to allow us to continue with the current mining plan.

 

In 2013, Buenavista continued the drilling program monitoring the extraction wells in the area of Increment (Phase) 5 of the mine and beyond the current limits of the open pit mine.

 

During 2013, the program to dewater the Buenavista pit bottom was continued in accordance with the short and medium term mine plans. Pumping from sumps located in Increment 5, permitted mining of high grade copper blocks. Concurrent with this operational task, a geophysical study was conducted to determine the best locations for water extraction wells to control the inflow of water to the pit bottom and thus allow us to continue our mining operations. The water extracted is being used for various purposes, including road irrigation for dust mitigation. The geophysical investigation also permitted the location of underground workings and the filtration and seepage through fractures.

 

A total of 7,339 meters were drilled during 2013 for 30 extraction wells, three of these wells are located in the area of Increment (Phase) 5. The rest were drilled at various locations outside of the current open pit mine limit.

 

In 2014, we continued collecting new geotechnical information from two exploration drilling projects; this data is available to analyze the geotechnical data base for new studies in accordance with slope angle for the open pit excavations. In the free face benches at the open pit mine operations, the cell-mapping were prepared to increment the geotechnical data base. Following the recommendations of geotechnical evaluation we continued monitoring the walls using the radar system. In 2015 we decided not to update the geotechnical evaluation as expected because the 15-year pit plan conducted in 2004 is valid until 2018. For 2016, we expect to perform a diamond drilling program of 5,000 meters, in order to obtain additional geotechnical information which will allow us to verify the slope stability for the long-term mine plan.

 

Various studies are now being conducted by outside specialized consultants in order to establish long-range mine water management objectives and to implement recommendations for the efficient use of this resource.

 

32



Table of Contents

 

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 the 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:

 

GRAPHIC

 

We have ongoing maintenance and improvement programs to ensure the satisfactory performance of our equipment. We believe all our Peruvian plant’s equipment is in good physical condition and suitable for our operations.

 

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, at an altitude of 3,430 meters above sea level.  Access to the Cuajone property is by plane from Lima to Tacna (1:40 hours) and then by highway to Moquegua and Cuajone (3:30 hours).  The concentrator has a milling capacity of 90,000 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 at the concentrator.

 

33



Table of Contents

 

The table below sets forth 2015, 2014 and 2013 production information for our Cuajone operations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance 2015-2014

 

 

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

Volume

 

%

 

Mine annual operating days

 

 

365

 

365

 

365

 

 

 

 

 

Mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total ore mined

(kt)

 

30,956

 

30,555

 

29,269

 

401

 

1.3

%

Copper grade

(%)

 

0.666

 

0.680

 

0.669

 

(0.014

)

(2.1

)%

Leach material mined

(kt)

 

 

1,898

 

3,071

 

(1,898

)

(100

)%

Leach material grade

(%)

 

 

0.671

 

0.467

 

(0.671

)

(100

)%

Stripping ratio

(x)

 

5.19

 

4.98

 

4.92

 

0.21

 

4.2

%

Total material mined

(kt)

 

191,651

 

182,812

 

173,277

 

8,839

 

4.8

%

Concentrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total material milled

(kt)

 

31,093

 

30,555

 

29,353

 

538

 

1.8

%

Copper recovery

(%)

 

86.09

 

85.88

 

85.91

 

0.21

 

0.2

%

Copper concentrate

(kt)

 

694.6

 

702.1

 

659.8

 

(7.5

)

(1.1

)%

Copper in concentrate

(kt)

 

178.2

 

178.3

 

168.6

 

(0.1

)

(0.1

)%

Copper concentrates average grade

(%)

 

25.65

 

25.40

 

25.55

 

0.25

 

1.0

%

Molybdenum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molybdenum grade

(%)

 

0.021

 

0.019

 

0.015

 

0.002

 

10.5

%

Molybdenum recovery

(%)

 

69.48

 

67.59

 

71.53

 

1.89

 

2.8

%

Molybdenum concentrate

(kt)

 

8.2

 

7.4

 

5.8

 

0.8

 

10.8

%

Molybdenum concentrate average grade

(%)

 

53.99

 

54.00

 

53.66

 

(0.01

)

 

Molybdenum in concentrate

(kt)

 

4.4

 

4.0

 

3.1

 

0.4

 

10.0

%

 

Key:

kt = thousand tons

 

x = Stripping 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.

 

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 43 rock types including, pre-mineral rocks, basaltic 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 shaped like an inverted cone. Ore minerals include chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), chalcosine (Cu2S) and molybdenite (MoS2) with occasional galena, tetraedrite and enargite as non-economic material.

 

Mine exploration

 

Exploration activities during the drill campaign in 2015 were as follows:

 

Studies

 

Meters

 

Holes

 

Notes

Infill drilling

 

3,581

 

11

 

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

 

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Table of Contents

 

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 0.35% 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 minerals, but separating waste material called tailings. This copper-molybdenum bulk concentrate is then 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 0.35% 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.

 

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, at an altitude of 3,220 meters above sea level. Access is by plane from Lima to the city of Tacna (1:40 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 2015, 2014 and 2013 production information for our Toquepala operations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance 2015-2014

 

 

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

Volume

 

%

 

Mine annual operating days

 

 

365

 

365

 

365

 

 

 

 

 

Mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total ore mined

(kt)

 

20,150

 

19,922

 

19,954

 

228

 

1.1

%

Copper grade

(%)

 

0.643

 

0.626

 

0.611

 

0.02

 

2.7

%

Leach material mined

(kt)

 

54,440

 

37,939

 

38,847

 

16,501

 

43.5

%

Leach material grade

(%)

 

0.158

 

0.155

 

0.222

 

0.003

 

1.9

%

Stripping ratio

(x)

 

8.58

 

9.60

 

7.51

 

(1.02

)

(10.6

)%

Total material mined

(kt)

 

193,013

 

211,202

 

169,808

 

(18,189

)

(8.6

)%

Concentrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total material milled

(kt)

 

20,272

 

19,942

 

19,925

 

330

 

1.7

%

Copper recovery

(%)

 

91.62

 

91.98

 

90.92

 

(0.36

)

(0.4

)%

Copper concentrate

(kt)

 

429.0

 

416.7

 

409.6

 

12.3

 

3.0

%

Copper in concentrate

(kt)

 

119.4

 

114.8

 

110.7

 

4.6

 

4.0

%

Copper concentrate average grade

(%)

 

27.84

 

27.55

 

27.02

 

0.29

 

1.1

%

Molybdenum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molybdenum grade

(%)

 

0.054

 

0.042

 

0.033

 

0.012

 

28.6

%

Molybdenum recovery

(%)

 

72.70

 

73.54

 

71.43

 

(0.84

)

(1.1

)%

Molybdenum concentrate

(kt)

 

14.1

 

10.9

 

8.4

 

3.20

 

29.4

%

Molybdenum concentrate average grade

(%)

 

56.14

 

56.02

 

55.46

 

0.12

 

0.2

%

Molybdenum in concentrate

(kt)

 

7.9

 

6.1

 

4.7

 

1.8

 

29.5

%

SX-EW plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimated leach recovery

(%)

 

25.88

 

25.94

 

25.69

 

(0.06

)

(0.2

)%

SX-EW cathode production

(kt)

 

24.2

 

25.7

 

28.4

 

(1.5

)

(5.8

)%

 

Key:

kt = thousand tons

 

x = Stripping 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.

 

35



Table of Contents

 

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.

 

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 world’s 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 rhyolites, 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.

 

Mine Exploration

 

Exploration activities during the drill campaign in 2015 were as follows: