Southern Copper 10-K 2006
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
2005 FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
SOUTHERN COPPER CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes o No ý
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15d of the Act.
Yes o No ý
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 ý No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment of this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. (See definition of accelerated filer and large accelerated filer in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Act).
Yes o No ý
As of January 31, 2006, there were of record 147,228,025 shares of Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding, and the aggregate market value of the shares of Common Stock (based upon the closing price on such date as reported on the New York Stock Exchange - Composite Transactions) of Southern Copper Corporation held by non affiliates was approximately $3,194.1 million.
PORTIONS OF THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS ARE INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
Item 1. Business
On Sunday, February 19, 2006, at about 2:00 am, a gas explosion occurred at our Pasta de Conchos coal mine, located in the San Juan Sabinas municipality, in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. The explosion caused a cave-in at three of the main tunnels leading into the mine. Initially 11 of our miners were rescued, some with minor injuries and some unharmed. Regrettably, 65 of our miners remained trapped. Our crews, with assistance from the Mexican army, regional industry and support from the government of Coahuila, worked around the clock to reach and rescue our men. As work progressed, the build up of methane gas made it apparent that any chance of our men remaining alive was hopeless. Commencing on Saturday, February 25 our efforts have been redefined as a mission to recover the bodies of our men so that their families can have the solace of proper burial. We honor the memory of these men
We are a leading integrated producer of copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver. All of our mining, smelting and refining facilities are located in Peru and in Mexico and we conduct exploration activities in those countries and Chile. See Review of Operations for maps of our principal mines, smelting facilities and refineries. Our operations make us the largest mining company in Peru and also in Mexico. We are the largest publicly traded copper mining company in the world based on reserves and the fifth largest copper mining company in the world based on 2004 sales. We were incorporated in Delaware in 1952 and have conducted copper mining operations since 1960. Since 1996, our common stock has been listed on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Lima Stock Exchange.
Our Peruvian copper operations involve mining, milling and flotation of copper ore to produce copper concentrates and molybdenum concentrates; the smelting of copper concentrates to produce blister copper and beginning in the first quarter of 2006 copper anodes; and the refining of blister copper/anode copper to produce copper cathodes. As part of this production process, we also produce significant amounts of molybdenum and silver. We also produce refined copper using SX/EW technology. We operate the Toquepala
and Cuajone mines high in the Andes mountains, approximately 984 kilometers southeast of the city of Lima, Peru. We also operate a smelter and refinery west of the Toquepala and Cuajone mines in the city of Ilo, Peru.
Our Mexican operations are conducted through our subsidiary, Minera México S.A. de C.V. (Minera Mexico), which we acquired on April 1, 2005. Minera México engages principally in the mining and processing of copper, zinc, silver, gold, lead and molybdenum. Minera México operates through subsidiaries that are grouped into three separate units. Mexicana de Cobre S.A. de C.V. (together with its subsidiaries, the Mexcobre Unit) operates an open-pit copper mine, a copper ore concentrator, a SX/EW plant, a smelter, refinery and rod plant. Mexicana de Cananea S.A. de C.V. (together with its subsidiaries, the Cananea Unit) operates an open-pit copper mine, which is located at the site of one of the worlds largest copper ore deposits, a copper concentrator and two SX/EW plants. Industrial Minera México, S.A. de C.V. (Immsa) and Minerales Metálicos del Norte, S.A. (together with Immsa and its subsidiaries, the Immsa Unit) operate five underground mines that produce zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, a coal and coke mine and several industrial processing facilities for zinc and copper.
We utilize many up-to-date mining and processing methods, including global positioning systems and computerized mining operations. Our operations have a high level of vertical integration that allows us to manage the entire production process, from the mining of the ore to the production of refined copper and other products and most related transport and logistics functions, using our own facilities, employees and equipment.
The sales prices for our products are largely determined by market forces outside of our control. For additional information on the pricing of the metals we produce, please see Metal prices. Our management, therefore, focuses on cost control and production enhancement to improve profitability. We achieve these goals through capital spending programs, exploration efforts and cost reduction programs. Our focus is on seeking to remain profitable during periods of low copper prices and maximizing results in periods of high copper prices.
Unless stated otherwise, references herein to U.S. dollars, dollars, or $ are to U.S. dollars; references to S/., nuevo sol or nuevos soles, are to Peruvian Nuevos Soles; and references to peso, pesos, or Ps., are to Mexican pesos.
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.
The following is a chart describing Grupo México S.A. de C.V. (Grupo Mexico), its ownership of us and our ownership of our recently acquired Minera México subsidiary. For clarity of presentation, the chart identifies only principal subsidiaries and eliminates intermediate holding companies.
We are a majority-owned, indirect subsidiary of Grupo México. Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Grupo México currently owns approximately 75.1% of our capital stock. Grupo Méxicos principal business is to act as a holding company for shares of other corporations engaged in the mining, processing, purchase and sale of minerals and other products and railway and other related services.
We conduct our operations in Peru through a registered branch (the SPCC Peru 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.
On April 1, 2005, we acquired Minera México, the largest mining company in Mexico on a stand-alone basis, from Americas Mining Corporation (AMC), a subsidiary of Grupo México, our controlling stockholder. Minera México is a holding company and all of its operations are conducted through subsidiaries that are grouped into three separate units: (i) the Mexcobre Unit, (ii) the Cananea Unit and (iii) the Immsa Unit. We now own 99.95% of Minera Mexico.
Forward-looking statements in this report and in other Company statements include statements regarding expected commencement dates of mining or metal production operations, projected quantities of future metal production, anticipated production rates, operating efficiencies, costs and expenditures as well as projected demand or supply for the Companys products. Actual results could differ materially depending upon factors including the risks and uncertainties relating to general U.S. and international economic and political conditions, the cyclical and volatile prices of copper, other commodities and supplies, including fuel and electricity, availability of materials, insurance coverage, equipment, required permits or approvals and financing, the occurrence of unusual weather or operating conditions, lower than expected ore grades, water and geological problems, the failure of equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications, failure to obtain financial assurance to meet closure and remediation obligations, labor relations, litigation and environmental risks, as well as political and economic risk associated with foreign operations. Results of operations are directly affected by metals prices on commodity exchanges, which can be volatile.
Additional business information follows:
Copper is the worlds third most widely used metal and an important component in the worlds infrastructure. Copper has unique chemical and physical properties, including high electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion, as well as excellent malleability and ductility that has made it a superior material for use in the electrical energy, telecommunications, building construction, transportation and industrial machinery businesses. Copper is also an important metal in non-electrical applications such as plumbing, roofing and, when alloyed with zinc to form brass, in many industrial and consumer applications.
Copper industry fundamentals, including copper demand, price levels and stocks, strengthened in late 2003 and copper prices have continued to improve in 2004 and 2005 from the 15-year price lows set during 2002.
BUSINESS REPORTING SEGMENTS:
Our Company operates in a single industry, the copper industry. With the acquisition of Minera Mexico in April 2005, we determined that to effectively manage our business we needed to focus on three operating components or segments. These segments are our Peruvian operations, our Mexican open-pit operations and our Mexican underground operations, known as our IMMSA unit. Our Peruvian operations include the Toquepala and Cuajone mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, industrial railroad and port facilities which service both facilities. Our Mexican open-pit operations combined two units of Minera Mexico, Mexcobre and Mexcananea, which includes La Caridad and Cananea mine complexes and smelting and refining plants and support facilities which service both complexes. Our IMMSA unit includes five underground mines that produce zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, a coal and coke mine, and several industrial processing facilities for copper, zinc and silver. Segment information is included under the captions Overview-Metal production and Ore reserves, as well as in Note 19 of our Consolidated Combined Financial Statements.
REVIEW OF OPERATIONS
The following maps set forth the locations of our principal mines, smelting facilities and refineries. We operate open-pit copper mines in the southern part of Peru at Toquepala and Cuajone and in Mexico, principally at La Caridad and Cananea. We also operate five underground mines that produce zinc, copper, silver and gold, as well as a coal mine and a coke oven.
COPPER AND MOLYBDENUM EXTRACTION 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 copper and molybdenum extraction process is outlined below, followed by a description of each principal component process.
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. Crushed ore is then sent to the concentrator.
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.
The copper ore with a copper grade over 0.4% from the open-pit primary crusher or the copper, zinc and lead-bearing ore from the underground mines is transported to a concentrator plant where gyratory crushers break the ore into sizes no larger than three-quarters of an inch. The ore is then sent to a mill section where it is ground to the consistency of fine powder. The finely ground ore is mixed with water and chemical reagents and pumped as a slurry to the flotation separator where it is mixed with certain chemicals. In the flotation separator, reagents solution and air pumped into the flotation cells cause the minerals to separate from the waste rock and bubble to the surface where they are collected and dried.
If the bulk concentrated copper contains molybdenum it is first processed in a molybdenum plant as described below under Molybdenum Production.
Copper concentrates are transported to a smelter, where they are smelted using a furnace, converter and anode furnace to produce either copper blister (which is in the form of cakes with air pockets) or copper anodes (which are cleaned of air pockets). At the smelter, the concentrates are mixed with flux (a chemical substance intentionally included for high temperature processing) and then sent to reverberatory furnaces producing copper matte and slag (a mixture of iron and other impurities). Copper matte contains approximately 65% copper. Copper matte is then sent to the converters, where the material is oxidized in two steps: (i) the iron sulfides in the matte are oxidized with silica, producing slag that is returned to the reverberatory furnaces; and (ii) the copper contained in the matte sulfides is then oxidized to produce copper that, after casting, is called blister copper, containing approximately 98% to 99% copper, or anodes, containing approximately 99.7% copper. Some of the blister production is sold to customers and the remainder is sent to the refinery.
Anodes are suspended in tanks containing sulfuric acid and copper sulfate. A weak electrical current is passed through the anodes and chemical solution and the dissolved copper is deposited on very thin starting sheets to produce copper cathodes containing approximately 99.99% copper. During this process, silver, gold and other metals (for example, palladium, platinum and selenium), along with other impurities, settle on the bottom of the tank. This anodic mud (slime) is processed at a precious metal plant where silver and gold are recovered.
COPPER ROD PLANT
To produce copper rods, copper cathodes are first melted in a furnace and then dosified in a casting machine. The dosified copper is then extruded and passed through a cooling system that begins solidification of copper into a 60´50 millimeter copper bar. The resulting copper bar is gradually stretched in a rolling mill to achieve the desired diameter. The rolled bar is then cooled and sprayed with wax as a preservation agent and collected into a rod coil that is compacted and sent to market.
SOLVENT EXTRACTION/ELECTROWINNING (SX/EW)
An alternative to the conventional concentrator/smelter/refinery process is the leaching and SX/EW process. During the SX/EW process, certain types of low-grade ore with a copper grade under 0.4% are leached with sulfuric acid to allow copper content recovery. The acid and copper solution is then agitated with a solvent that contains chemical additives that attract copper ions. As the solvent is lighter than water, it floats to the surface carrying with it the copper content. The solvent is then separated using an acid solution, freeing the copper. The acid solution containing the copper is then moved to electrolytic extraction tanks to produce copper cathodes. Refined copper can be produced more economically (though over a longer period) and from lower grade ore using the SX/EW process instead of the traditional concentrating, smelting and refining process.
Molybdenum 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.
Metallic zinc is produced through electrolysis using zinc concentrates and zinc oxides. Sulfur is eliminated from the concentrates by roasting and the zinc oxide is dissolved in sulfuric acid solution to eliminate solid impurities. The purified zinc sulfide solution is treated by electrolysis to produce refined zinc and to separate silver and gold, which are recovered as concentrates.
SULFURIC ACID PRODUCTION
Sulfur dioxide gases are produced in the copper smelting and zinc roasting processes. As a part of our environmental preservation program, we treat the sulfur dioxide emissions at two of our Mexican plants and at Peruvian processing facilities to produce sulfuric acid, some of which is, in turn, used for the copper leaching process, with the rest sold to mining and fertilizer companies located in Mexico, Peru, the United States, Chile, Australia and other countries.
SILVER AND GOLD REFINING
Silver and gold are recovered from copper, zinc and lead concentrates in the smelters and refineries, and from slimes through electrolytic refining.
Both the Toquepala and Cuajone pits are approximately 700 meters deep and under the present mine plan configuration will reach a depth of 1,200 meters. The deepening pit presents us with a number of geotechnical challenges. Perhaps the foremost concern is the possibility of slope failure, a possibility that all open pit mines face. In order to maintain slope stability, in the past we have decreased pit slope angles, installed additional or duplicate haul road access, and increased stripping requirements. We have also responded to hydrological conditions and removed material displaced by a slope failure. There is no assurance that we will not have to take these or other actions in the future, any of which may negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition, as well as have the effect of diminishing our stated ore reserves. To meet the geotechnical challenges relating to slope stability of the open pit mines, we have taken the following steps:
In the late 1990s we hosted round table meetings in Vancouver, B.C. with a group of recognized slope stability and open pit mining specialist. The agenda for these meetings was principally a review of pit design for mines with greater than 700 meter depth. The discussions included practices for monitoring, data collection and blasting processes.
Based on the concepts defined at the Vancouver meetings, we initiated slope stability studies to define the mining of reserves by optimum design. These studies were performed by outside consultants and included slope stability appraisals, evaluation of the numerical modeling, slope performance and inter-ramp angle design and evaluation of hydrological conditions.
The studies were completed in 2000 and we believe we implemented the study recommendations. One of the major changes implemented was slope angle reduction at both
mines, Toquepala by 5 degrees average and Cuajone by 7 degrees average. Although this increased the waste included in the mineable reserve calculation, it also improved the stability of the pits.
Since 1998, a wall depressurization program has been in place in both pits. This consists of a horizontal drilling program, which improves drainage thereby reducing saturation and increasing wall stability. Additionally, a new blasting control program was put in place, implementing vibration monitoring and blasting designs of low punctual energy. Also a new slope monitoring system was implemented using reflection prisms, deformation inclinometers and piezometers for water level control, as well as real-time robotic monitoring equipment.
To increase the possibility of mining in the event of a slide, we have provided for two ramps of extraction for each open pit mine.
While these measures cannot guarantee that a slope failure will not occur, we believe that our mining practices are sound and that the steps taken and the ongoing reviews performed are a prudent methodology for open pit mining.
OVERVIEW METAL PRODUCTION
The table below sets forth 2005, 2004 and 2003 mine production data by metal.
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.
Our Peruvian segment operations include the Cuajone and Toquepala mine complexes and the smelting and refining plants, industrial railroad and port facilities which service both facilities.
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. The concentrator has a milling capacity of 87,000 tons per day. Overburden removal commenced in 1970 and ore production commenced in 1976. Our Cuajone operations utilize a conventional open-pit mining method to collect copper ore for further processing in our concentrator.
The table below sets forth 2005, 2004 and 2003 production information for our Cuajone operations.
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.
Our Cuajone operations use state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations. Material with a copper grade over 0.40% is loaded onto rail cars and sent to the milling circuit, where giant rotating crushers reduce the size of the rocks to approximately one-half of an inch. The ore is then sent to the ball mills, which grind it to the consistency of fine powder. The finely ground powder is agitated in a water and reagents solution and is then transported to flotation cells. Air is pumped into the cells producing a froth that carries the copper mineral to the surface but not the waste rock, or tailings. Recovered copper, with the consistency of froth, is filtered and dried to produce copper concentrates with an average copper content of 26.4%. Concentrates are then shipped by rail to the smelter at Ilo.
Tailings are sent to thickeners where water is recovered. The remaining tailings are sent to the Quebrada Honda dam, our Peruvian tailings storage facility.
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. The concentrator has a milling capacity of 60,000 tons per day, which has been expanded from 45,000 tons per day in 2002. The SX/EW facility has a refining capacity of 56,000 tons per year. 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 2005, 2004 and 2003 production information for our Toquepala operations.
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.
Our Toquepala operations use state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations. Material with a copper grade over 0.40% is loaded onto rail cars and sent to the milling circuit, where giant rotating crushers reduce the size of the rocks to approximately one-half of an inch. The ore is then sent to the ball and bar mills, which grind it to the consistency of fine powder. The finely ground powder is agitated in a water and reagents solution and is then transported to flotation cells. Air is pumped into the cells producing a froth, which carries the copper mineral to the surface but not the waste rock, or tailings. Recovered copper, with the consistency of froth, is filtered and dried to produce copper concentrates with an average copper content of 27.3%. Concentrates are then shipped by rail to the smelter at Ilo.
Tailings are sent to thickeners where water is recovered. The remaining tailings are sent to the Quebrada Honda dam, our Peruvian tailings storage facility.
The SX/EW facility at Toquepala produces refined copper from solutions obtained by leaching low-grade ore stored at the Toquepala and Cuajone mines. The leach plant commenced operations in October 1995 with a design capacity of 35,629 tons per year of copper cathodes. In August 1999 the capacity was expanded to 56,000 tons per year.
Processing Facilities - Ilo
Our Ilo smelter and refinery complex is located in the southern part of Peru, 17 kilometers north of the city of Ilo, 121 kilometers from Toquepala, 147 kilometers from Cuajone, and 1,240 kilometers from the city of Lima.
Our Ilo smelter provides blister copper for the refinery we operate as part of the same facility. Blister copper produced by the smelter exceeds the refinerys capacity and the excess is sold to other refineries around the world. The nominal installed capacity of the smelter is 1,131,500 tons per year. We are in the process of modernizing the Ilo smelter to comply with Peruvian government requirements. The project is part of our Environmental Compliance and Management Program, or PAMA, which was approved by the Peruvian government in 1997. The project will modernize the smelter and is targeted to capture no less than 92% of the sulfur dioxide emissions, in compliance with PAMA requirements. The modernization program is progressing on schedule and expected to be completed by the end of 2006. As part of this project an anode casting wheel was completed in January 2006 and blister production was replaced with anode production, enabling us to eliminate a costly re-melting step in our production process.
During 2005, 2004 and 2003, 325,623, 320,722 and 314,920 tons, respectively, of copper blister were produced, with average grades of 99.35%, 99.37% and 99.31%, respectively. The copper recovery was 97.57% for 2005, 97.23% for 2004 and 96.80% for 2003.
The refinery consists of an anode plant, an electrolytic plant, a precious metals plant and a number of ancillary installations. The refinery is producing grade A copper cathode of 99.99% purity. The nominal capacity is 280,000 tons per year. Anodic slimes are recovered from the refining process and are sent to the precious metals facility to produce silver, gold and selenium.
During 2005, 2004 and 2003, 285,205, 280,679 and 284,006 tons, respectively, of copper cathodes were produced, with an average grade of 99.998% for the three years.
The precious metals plant produced 109,894 kilograms of refined silver and 184 kilograms of gold in 2005, 118,906 kilograms of refined silver and 174 kilograms of gold in 2004 and 111,951 kilograms of refined silver and 265 kilograms of gold in 2003. Selenium production was, 48.7 tons, 51.9 tons and 47.8 tons in 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively.
MEXICAN OPEN PIT UNIT
Our Mexican open-pit segment operations combines two units of Minera Mexico, Mexcobre and Mexcananea, which includes La Caridad and Cananea mine complexes and smelting and refining plants and support facilities which service both complexes.
We operate an open-pit copper mine, a concentrator and two SX/EW plants at our Cananea mining complex, located 71 kilometers from La Caridad, Mexico and 61 kilometers south of the Arizona border on the outskirts of the town of Cananea. The concentrator has a milling capacity of 76,700 tons per day. The SX/EW facility has a refining capacity of 54,750 tons per year. The Cananea site is one of the worlds largest porphyry copper deposits. The Cananea mine is the oldest continuously operating copper mine in North America, with operations tracing back to 1899. Cananea uses a conventional open-pit mining method to collect copper ore for further refining in our concentrator.
The table below sets forth 2005, 2004 and 2003 production information for Cananea.
The Cananea mine is unusual in that the ore explored and sampled at the mine has been of consistent quality, unlike most copper deposits which evidence a decline in grades at deeper strata. The Cananea region is within the southern Cordilleran region, extending from southern Mexico to the northwestern United States.
Cananea uses state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations. Material with a copper grade over 0.38% is loaded onto trucks and sent to the milling circuit, where giant rotating crushers reduce the size of the rocks to approximately one-half of an inch. The ore is then sent to the ball and bar mills, which grind it to the consistency of fine powder. The finely ground powder is agitated in a water and reagents solution and is then transported to flotation cells. Air is pumped into the cells producing a froth, which carries the copper mineral to the surface but not the waste rock, or tailings. Recovered copper, with the consistency of froth, is filtered and dried to produce copper concentrates with an average copper content of 27.21%. Concentrates are then shipped by rail to the smelter at La Caridad.
The Cananea Unit operates a leaching facility and two SX/EW plants. All copper ore with a grade lower than the mill cut-off grade 0.25%, but higher than 0.15% copper, is delivered to the leaching dumps. A cycle of leaching and resting occurs for approximately five years to achieve a 56% recovery.
The Cananea Unit currently maintains 16.5 million cubic meters of pregnant leach solution in inventory with a concentration of approximately 1.79 grams of copper per liter.
Mexcobre operates the La Caridad mining complex, located in the State of Sonora, Mexico 23 kilometers southeast of the town of Nacozari de García and 121 kilometers south of the U.S.-Mexico border. It includes an open-pit mine concentrator, smelter, copper refinery, precious metals refinery, rod plant, SX/EW plant, lime plant and two sulfuric acid plants. The smelter and the sulfuric acid plants, as well as the refineries and rod plant, are located approximately 24 kilometers from the mine, and the lime plant is situated 18 kilometers from the U.S. border. Access is by paved highway and by railroad.
The concentrator began operations in June 1979, the molybdenum plant in June 1982, the smelter in June 1986, the first sulfuric acid plant in July 1988, the SX/EW plant in July
1995, the second sulfuric acid plant in January 1997, the copper refinery in July 1997, the rod plant in April 1998 and the precious metals refinery in July 1999.
The table below sets forth 2005, 2004 and 2003 production information for La Caridad.
The La Caridad deposit is a porphyry copper deposit typical of those in the southern basin and range province in the southwestern United States. The Mexcobre Unit uses a conventional open-pit mining method. The ore body is situated within a mountain top, which gives La Caridad the advantage of a relatively low waste-stripping ratio, natural pit drainage and relatively short haul distances for both ore and waste. The mining method involves drilling, blasting, loading and haulage of waste, leach and ore to waste and leaching dumps and to the primary crushers.
Mexcobre uses state-of-the-art computer monitoring systems at the concentrator, the crushing plant and the flotation circuit in order to coordinate inflows and optimize operations. The concentrator has a current capacity of 90,000 metric tons of ore per day.
Ore extracted from the mine with a copper grade over 0.30% is processed at the concentrator and is processed into copper concentrates and molybdenum concentrates. The copper concentrates are sent to the smelter and the molybdenum concentrate is exported. The molybdenum recovery plant has a capacity of 2,000 tons per day of copper-molybdenum concentrates. The lime plant has a capacity of 340 tons of finished product per day.
Approximately 463.6 million tons of leaching ore with an average grade of approximately 0.25% copper have been extracted from the La Caridad open-pit mine and deposited in leaching dumps from May 1995 to December 31, 2005. In 1995, Mexcobre completed the construction of a new SX/EW facility at La Caridad that has allowed processing of this ore and certain leach ore reserves that are unmined and has resulted in a reduction in Mexcobres production costs of copper. The SX/EW facility has a total capacity of 21,900 tons of copper cathodes per year.
Processing Facilities La Caridad
Our La Caridad complex includes a smelter, an electrolytic copper refinery, a precious metal refinery and a copper rod plant. The distance between this complex and the La Caridad mining unit is approximately 24 kilometers.
Copper concentrates are carried to the La Caridad smelter where they are processed and cast into copper anodes of 99.2% purity to be sold to refineries. Sulfur dioxide off-gases collected from the flash furnaces and converters are processed into sulfuric acid at two sulfuric acid plants and sold to third parties.
Almost all of the anodes produced in the smelter are sent to the La Caridad copper refinery in order to increase the copper purity. The actual installed capacity of the smelter is 1,000,000 tons per year, capacity that is sufficient to receive the concentrates of the Mexicana de Cobre (La Caridad) and Mexicana de Cananea Mining Units. The amount of smelted copper concentrates was 894,735, 820,459 and 629,505 tons for 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The anode production capacity is 300,000 tons per year and the production for 2005, 2004 and 2003 was 282,412, 250,890 and 199,033 tons, respectively.
Sulfuric acid production was 833,380, 778,350 and 603,300 tons for 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively.
Mexcobre includes an electrolytic copper refinery at La Caridad that uses permanent cathode technology. The actual installed capacity of the refinery is 300,000 tons per year. The refinery consists of an anode plant with a preparation area, an electrolytic plant, a slime treatment plant and a number of ancillary installations. The refinery is producing grade A copper cathode of 99.99% purity. Anodic slimes are recovered from the refining process and sent to the slimes treatment plant where additional copper is extracted. The slimes are then filtered, packed and shipped to the La Caridad precious metals refinery to produce silver and gold. The refined cathode production for 2005, 2004 and 2003 was 233,685, 202,146 and 163,967 tons, respectively.
The operations of the precious metal refinery are divided into two stages: (i) the antimony is eliminated from the slime; and (ii) the slime is dried in a steam dryer. After this the dried slime is smelted and a gold and silver alloy is obtained, which is known as dore. The process ends with the refining of the gold and silver alloy. The production of gold for 2005, 2004 and 2003 was 817, 575 and 594 kilograms, respectively. The production of silver for 2005, 2004 and 2003 was 142,534, 90,914 and 136,117 kilograms, respectively.
Copper Rod Plant
A rod plant at the Mexcobre Unit was completed in April 1998 and reached its maximum annual operating capacity of 150,000 tons in May 1999. The plant is producing 8 millimeter copper rods with a purity of 99.99%. Copper rod production for 2005, 2004 and 2003 was 113,167, 69,529 and 53,822 tons, respectively.
MEXICAN IMMSA UNIT
Our IMMSA unit (underground mining poly-metallic division) produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, a coal and coke mine, and several industrial processing facilities for zinc, lead, copper and silver and operates five underground mining complexes situated in central and northern Mexico. All of IMMSAs mining facilities employ exploitation systems and conventional equipment. We believe that all the plants and equipment are in satisfactory operating condition. IMMSAs principal mining facilities include Charcas, Santa Barbara, San Martin, Santa Eulalia and Taxco.
The Charcas mining complex is located 111 kilometers north of the city of San Luis Potosi in the State of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The complex includes three underground mines and one flotation plant and produces zinc, lead and copper concentrates, with significant
amounts of silver. The Charcas mining district was discovered in 1573 and operations in the 20th century began in 1911. The Charcas mine is characterized by low operating costs and good quality ores and is situated near the zinc refinery. We have expanded production capacity of the mine by 32% since 1993, and the Charcas mine is now Mexicos largest producer of zinc.
The Charcas mining district occupies the east-central part of the Central Mesa and is part of the Sierra Madre Metallogenic Province.
The Charcas mine uses the hydraulic cut-and-fill method and the room-and-pillar mining method with descending benches. The broken ore is hauled to the underground crusher station. The crushed ore is then hoisted to the surface for processing in the flotation plant to produce lead, zinc and copper concentrates. The capacity of the flotation plant is 4,000 tons of ore per day; 1,327,990, 1,317,288 and 1,212,938 tons of ore were mined at Charcas during 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The lead concentrate produced at Charcas is treated at a third party refinery in Mexico. The zinc and copper concentrates are treated at our San Luis Potosi zinc refinery and copper smelter.
The Santa Barbara mining complex is located approximately 26 kilometers southwest of the city of Hidalgo del Parral in southern Chihuahua, Mexico. It includes three main underground mines and a flotation plant and produces lead, copper and zinc concentrates, with significant amounts of silver. Gold-bearing veins were discovered in the Santa Barbara district as early as 1536. Mining activities in the 20th century began in 1913.
The mining operations at Santa Barbara are more diverse and complex than at any of the other mines in our Mexican operations, with veins that aggregate approximately 21 kilometers in length. Each of the three underground mines has several shafts and crushers. Due to the variable characteristics of the ore bodies, four types of mining methods are used: shrinkage stoping, long-hole drilled open stoping, cut-and-fill stoping and horizontal bench stoping. The ore, once crushed, is processed in the flotation plant to produce concentrates. The flotation plant has a capacity of 6,000 tons of ore per day; 1,486,622, 1,453,793 and 1,450,124 tons of ore were mined at the Santa Barbara mine during 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The lead concentrate produced is treated at a third party refinery in Mexico. The copper concentrates are treated at our San Luis Potosi copper smelter, and the zinc concentrates are either treated at the San Luis Potosi zinc refinery or exported.
The San Martin mining complex is located in the municipality of Sombrerete in the western part of the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, approximately 101 kilometers southeast of the city of Durango. The complex includes an underground mine and a flotation plant and produces lead, copper and zinc concentrates, with significant amounts of silver. The mining district in which the San Martin mine is located was discovered in 1555. Mining operations in the 20th century began in 1949. San Martin lies in the Mesa Central between the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental.
The horizontal cut-and-fill mining method is used at the San Martin mine. The broken ore is hauled to the underground crusher station. The ore is then brought to the surface and fed to the flotation plant to produce concentrates. The flotation plant has a total capacity of 4,400 tons of ore per day; 1,231,476, 1,259,220 and 1,287,239 tons of ore were mined at San Martin in 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The lead concentrate is treated at a third party refinery in Mexico. The copper concentrate is treated at our San Luis Potosi copper smelter and zinc concentrate is either treated at the San Luis Potosi zinc refinery or exported.
The mining district of Santa Eulalia is located in the central part of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, approximately 26 kilometers east of the city of Chihuahua. This district covers approximately 48 square kilometers and is divided into three fields: east field, central field and west field. The west field and the east field, in which the principal mines of the unit are found, are separated by 6 kilometers. The Buena Tierra mine is located in the west field and the San Antonio mine is located in the east field.
The mining district was discovered in 1590, although exploitation did not formally begin until 1870.
The Santa Eulalia unit suspended operations totally from October 2000 to December 2004, during which time rehabilitation work was completed at the Tiro San Antonio and pipes were installed to expand the pumping capacity to 10,500 gallons per minute. In January 2005, operations began at the Santa Eulalia unit, with a production plan for 230,900 tons. The flotation plant, at which lead concentrate and zinc concentrate are produced, has a capacity of 1,500 tons or ore per day 209,658 tons of ore were mined at Santa Eulalia in 2005. The lead concentrate is treated at a third party refinery, and the zinc concentrate is treated at our San Luis Potosi zinc refinery. The production plan for 2006 is estimated to be 260,800 tons.
The Taxco mining complex is located on the outskirts of the city of Taxco in the northern part of Guerrero State, Mexico, approximately 71 kilometers from the city of Cuernavaca. The complex includes several underground mines and a flotation plant and produces lead and zinc concentrates, with some amounts of gold and silver. The mining district in which the Taxco mines are located was discovered in 1519. Mining activities in the 20th century commenced in 1918.
The Taxco district lies in the northern part of the Balsas-Mexcala basin adjacent to the Paleozoic Taxco-Zitacuaro Massif.
IMMSA employs shrinkage, cut-and-fill and the room and pillar mining methods at the Taxco mines. The flotation plant has a capacity of 2,000 tons of ore per day; 362,550, 352,174 and 328,243 tons or ore were mined at Taxco in 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The lead concentrate is sold in Mexico. The zinc concentrates is either treated at the San Luis Potosi zinc refinery or exported.
Processing Facilities - San Luis Potosi
Our San Luis Potosi electrolytic zinc refinery is located in the city of San Luis Potosi, in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Our San Luis Potosi copper smelter is adjacent to the San Luis Potosi zinc refinery.
The San Luis Potosi copper smelter has been in operation since 1925 and has gone through several phases of modernization, principally over the last ten years. The smelter presently has the capacity to process 230,000 tons of copper concentrate per year.
The plant operates one blast furnace (with a second on stand-by) that smelts incoming materials, mainly copper concentrates and copper byproducts from lead plants, to produce a copper matte. The copper matte is then treated in one of the two Pierce Smith converters, producing copper blister (97.4% copper), which in 2005 contained approximately one ounce of gold and 400 ounces of silver per ton of copper blister produced. Of a total copper concentrate intake of 50,243 tons in 2005, approximately 90% was supplied by the Immsa Units mines and the remaining amount was smelted under toll arrangements with third parties. Copper blister production in 2005, 2004 and 2003 amounted to 21,318, 22,666, and 23,548 tons, respectively.
As the materials treated at the smelter contain various impurities (especially lead and arsenic), the facility has been equipped with an arsenic recovery plant for treatment of the flue dust produced in the blast furnace section. This material contains approximately 35% lead and 18% arsenic which, when treated, produces approximately 1,800 tons per year of high purity arsenic trioxide which is, in turn, sold in the United States principally to the wood preserving industry. Approximately 15,000 tons per year of lead bearing calcines (approximately 32% lead) are sold annually to Industrias Peñoles, S.A. de C.V. (Peñoles).
The San Luis Potosi electrolytic zinc refinery was built in 1982. It was designed to produce 105,000 tons of refined zinc per year by treating up to 200,000 tons of zinc concentrate from our own mines, principally Charcas, located only 113 kilometers from the refinery. Refined zinc production in 2005, 2004 and 2003 amounted to 101,523, 102,556 and 101,069 tons, respectively. The refinery produces special high grade zinc (99.995% zinc), high grade zinc (over 99.9% zinc) and zinc-based alloys with aluminum, lead, copper or magnesium in varying quantities and sizes depending on market demand. In 2005, the plant produced as byproducts 176,295 tons of sulfuric acid, 706 tons of refined cadmium, 14,566 kilograms of silver and 4 kilograms of gold.
Nueva Rosita Coal and Coke Complex
The Nueva Rosita coal and coke complex, which began operations in 1924, is located in the state of Coahuila, Mexico on the outskirts of the city of Nueva Rosita near the Texas border. It comprises an underground coal mine, with a present yearly capacity of approximately 280,000 tons of coal, and a 21-coke oven facility capable of producing 104,000 tons of metallurgical coke per year. At present the 21 ovens are being re-engineered and modernized, with an investment of $12 million, to service the operations of the facility for the next 25 years.
The room-and-pillar mining method is employed at the underground Nueva Rosita coal mine with continuous miners. At present, the coke oven installation supplies the San Luis Potosi copper smelter with low-cost coke, resulting in significant cost savings to the smelter. The surplus production (approximately 21,608 tons per year) is sold to Peñoles and other Mexican consumers in northern Mexico. The complex includes a coal washing plant completed in 1998 that has a capacity of 900,000 tons per year and produces cleaner coal of a higher quality. The 2005, 2004 and 2003 production of clean coal was 257,016, 238,336 and 260,966 tons, respectively.
EXPANSION AND MODERNIZATION PROGRAM
For a description of our Expansion and Modernization Program see Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Expansion and Modernization Program.
We are engaged in ongoing extensive exploration to locate additional ore bodies in Peru, Mexico and Chile. We spent $24.4 million on exploration programs in 2005, $15.6 million in 2004 and $17.9 million in 2003, and have budgeted $33.4 million for 2006.
Currently in Peru, we have direct control of 99,537 hectares of mineral rights. In Mexico, we hold 295,367 hectares of exploration concessions. We also hold 38,200 hectares of exploration concessions in Chile.
Los Chancas. The Los Chancas project, located in the department of Apurimac in southern Peru, is a copper and molybdenum porphyry deposit. In 2004 we completed the final phase of the diamond drilling program the second and final phase of metallurgical testing. At the end of 2005 several companies have been invited to present proposals for the execution of the pre-feasibility studies that will begin in 2006. Once completed, we will be able to make a determination if more exploration is needed or if the project contains commercially mineable reserves, which would warrant future development after comprehensive economic, technical and legal feasibility studies are completed. Testing to date indicates a mineral deposit of 200 million tons with a copper grade of 1.0%, 0.07% molybdenum and 0.12 grams of gold per ton.
Tantahuatay. The Tantahuatay project is located in the department of Cajamarca in northern Peru. We have performed exploration work in the upper part of the deposit principally for gold recovery. Work to date indicates mineralization of 27.1 million tons, with an average gold content of 0.89 grams per ton and 13.0 grams of silver per ton. This project, in which we have a 44.25% share, continues in the exploratory stage. During 2004 and 2005 we concentrated our efforts on dealing with social and environmental concerns of communities near the project.
Tia Maria. The Tia Maria project, located in the department of Arequipa in southern Peru, is a copper porphyritic system. In 2005 a total of 29,000 meters of diamond drilling was completed out of the 15,000 meters projected. The drilling is continuing into 2006 to complete the program. This project is in the exploratory stage.
Other Peruvian Prospects. As part of our 2005 exploration and development program, we drilled at the Gloria Cristina prospect located in northern Peru, in the department of La Libertad, and at the El Fiscal prospect in southern Peru, in the department of Arequipa. The El Fiscal prospect shows evidence of copper-gold mineralization and we are scheduling additional drilling as part of 2006 exploration and development program. Both prospects show evidence of copper-gold mineralization.
In addition to exploratory drilling programs at existing mines, we are currently conducting exploration to locate mineral deposits at various other sites in Mexico. In particular, we have identified significant copper and gold deposits at El Arco site.
El Arco. The El Arco site is located in the state of Baja California in Mexico. Preliminary investigations of the El Arco site indicate a deposit of 846 million tons of sulfide ore with average copper grades of 0.51% and 0.14 grams of gold per ton, and 170 million tons of leaching ore with average copper grades of 0.56%. Currently we are in the process of identifying water sources for a leaching operation.
Angangueo. The Angangueo site is located in the state of Michoacán in Mexico. A mineral deposit of 13 million tons of ore has been identified with diamond drilling. The mineral deposit contains 0.16 grams of gold and 262 grams of silver per ton, and is comprised of 0.79% lead, 0.97% copper and 3.5% zinc. During 2005, we received the approval for our environmental impact study and we are in the process of obtaining land use approval.
Buenavista. The Buenavista project site is located in the state of Sonora in Mexico, adjacent to the Cananea ore body. Drilling and metallurgical studies have shown that the site contains a mineral deposit of 36 million tons of ore containing 29 grams of silver, 0.69% of copper and 3.3% of zinc per ton.
In 2003 we acquired several exploration properties in Chile with over 35,000 hectares of mining rights. In 2004 we started exploration work on certain of these Chilean properties with diamond drilling on El Salado prospects.
El Salado. The El Salado prospect, located in the Atacama Region, stretches over 2,700 hectares and is also being explored for copper-gold. Through 2005, 11,079 meters of diamond drilling was completed. We are currently doing a geological evaluation of Sierra Aspera, a copper-gold prospect, located in the north of Chile.
Other Chilean Prospects. Other prospects like Catanave and Esperanza, located in the Tarapaca and Atacama regions, respectively, in northern Chile, are scheduled for future exploration.
PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND MARKETS
The principal uses of copper are in the building and construction industry, electrical and electronic products and, to a lesser extent, industrial machinery and equipment, consumer products and the automotive and transportation industries. Molybdenum is used to toughen alloy steels and soften tungsten alloy and is also used in fertilizers, dyes, enamels and reagents. Silver is used for photographic, electrical and electronic products and, to a lesser extent, brazing alloys and solder, jewelry, coinage, silverware and catalysts. Zinc is primarily used as a coating on iron and steel to protect against corrosion. It is also used to make die cast parts, in the manufacturing of batteries and in the form of sheets for architectural purposes.
Our marketing strategy and annual sales planning emphasize developing and maintaining long-term customer relationships, and thus acquiring annual or other long-term contracts for the sale of our products is a high priority. Approximately 90% of our metal production for the year 2005, 2004 and 2003, was sold under annual or longer-term contracts. Sales prices are determined based on prevailing commodity prices for the quotation period, generally being the month of, the month prior to or the months following the actual or contractual month of shipment or delivery, according to the terms of the contract.
We focus on the ultimate end-user customers as opposed to selling on the spot market or to trading companies. In addition, we devote significant marketing effort to diversifying our sales both by region and by customer base. We strive to provide superior customer service, including just-in-time deliveries of our products. Our ability to consistently fulfill customer demand is supported by our substantial production capacity.
For additional information on sales by segment, see Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations Segment Sales Information.
Prices for our products are principally a function of supply and demand and, except for molybdenum, are established on the Commodities Exchange, or COMEX, in New York and the London Metal Exchange or LME the two most important metal exchanges in the world. Prices for our molybdenum products are established by reference to the publication Platts 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. In 2003 and 2004, however, we did not enter into any material hedging transactions. We have, however, entered into copper swap contracts in 2005. At December 31, 2005 we do not have any copper swap contracts. See Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure about Market Risk. For a further discussion of prices for our products, please see Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Result of Operations Metal Prices.
Competition in the copper market is principally on a price and service basis, with price being the most important consideration when supplies of copper are ample. The Companys products compete with other materials, including aluminum and plastics.
As of December 31, 2005, we employed 12,877 persons, approximately 71% of whom are covered by labor agreements with ten different labor unions. During the last several years, we have experienced strikes or other labor disruptions that have had an adverse impact on our operations and operating results. We cannot assure you that in the future we will not experience strikes or other labor-related work stoppages that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Approximately 59% of our Peruvian labor force was unionized at December 31, 2005, represented by nine separate unions. Collective bargaining agreements are in effect with each of these unions. These agreements are in force through 2007.
In Peru on August 31, 2004, unionized workers at our mining units in Toquepala and Cuajone stopped work and asked for additional wage increases based on high metals prices. The strike ended after twelve days. The union demands included salary increases, benefits and different application of certain aspects of their labor agreements and it also expressed opposition to our acquisition of Minera México. The Peruvian labor ministry declared the strike illegal and the workers returned to work but asserted their right to return to strike. In early 2005, the workers removed the strike threat, indicating they would pursue their grievances through the labor ministry. There were no labor strikes in 2005 or 2003.
Employees of the Toquepala and Cuajone units reside in town sites, where we have built 2,513 houses and apartments and 1,186 houses and apartments respectively. In 1998, Company housing, at our Ilo unit, was sold to workers at nominal prices. We still hold 90 houses at Ilo for staff personnel. Housing, together with maintenance and utility services, is provided at minimal cost to most of our employees. Our town site and housing complexes include schools, medical facilities, churches, social clubs, shopping, banking and other services.
Approximately 76% of our Mexican labor force at December 31, 2005 were members of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Minera Metalúrgicos y Similares de la República Mexicana, A.C. (the National Mine Workers Union, or the Union). Under Mexican law, the terms of employment for unionized workers is set forth in collective bargaining agreements. Mexican companies negotiate the salary provisions of collective bargaining agreements with the labor unions annually and negotiate other benefits every two years. We conduct negotiations separately at each mining complex and each processing plant.
On October 26, 2005, the workers at our La Caridad mining complex went on strike claiming that the Company still owed them profit sharing from 2003. The strike was declared illegal and the workers returned to work two days later after the Company agreed to pay each worker approximately $900.00. The total paid was $3.1 million.
On July 12, 2004, the workers of Mexicana de Cobre went on strike, asking for the review of certain contractual clauses; workers were satisfied with the review and returned to work 18 days later. On October 15, 2004, the workers of Mexicana de Cananea went on strike, followed by the Mexicana de Cobre workers. The strike lasted for 6 days at Mexicana de Cobre and 9 days at Mexicana de Cananea. The strike was resolved by the acquisition by Minera México of the 5% of the stock of Mexicana de Cananea and Mexicana de Cobre that was owned by the Union.
On January 20, 2003, approximately 1,117 members of the Union went on strike at the Cananea mine in the state of Sonora, alleging a violation of their collective bargaining agreement. This strike was resolved on February 5, 2003.
Employees of the Mexcobre and Cananea Units reside in town sites at La Caridad and Cananea, where we have built approximately 2,000 houses and apartments and 275 houses and apartments, respectively. Employees of the Immsa Unit principally reside on the grounds of the mining or processing complexes in which they work and where we have built approximately 900 houses and apartments. Housing, together with maintenance and utility services, is provided at minimal cost to most of our employees. Our town sites and housing complexes include educational and, in some units, medical facilities, churches, social clubs, shopping, banking and other services. At the Cananea Unit, health care is provided free of charge to employees and retired unionized employees and their families.
FUEL, ELECTRICITY AND WATER SUPPLIES
Aside from ore, the principal raw materials for our operations are fuels (including fuel oil to power boilers and generators, natural gas for metallurgical processes at our Mexican operations and diesel fuel for mining equipment), electricity and water. We believe that supplies of fuel, electricity and water are readily available. Although the prices of these raw materials may fluctuate, we have generally been able to offset all or a portion of our increased costs through cost and energy saving measures. However, during the period from 2003 through 2005 we have experienced increases in energy prices that have surpassed levels we can effectively control through cost savings.
In Peru, electric power for our operating facilities is generated by two thermal electric plants owned and operated by Energía del Sur, S.A. (Enersur), a diesel and waste heat boilers plant located adjacent to the Ilo smelter and a coal plant located south of Ilo. Power generation capacity for Peruvian operations is currently 344 megawatts. In addition, we have 9 megawatts of power generation capacity from two small hydro-generating installations at Cuajone. Power is distributed over a 224-kilometer closed loop transmission circuit. We obtain fuel in Peru principally from the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
In 1997, we sold our Ilo power plant to Enersur and entered into a power purchase agreement. We and Enersur also entered into an agreement for the sharing of certain services between the power plant and our smelter at Ilo. These arrangements were amended in 2003, and we made a one-time contractual payment to Enersur of $4.0 million associated with the termination of the original power purchase agreement. We believe we can satisfy the need for increased electricity requirements for our Peru operations from other sources, including local power providers.
In Peru, we have water concessions for well fields at Huaitire, Vizcachas and Titijones and surface water rights from the Suches lake, which together are sufficient to supply the needs of our two operating mine sites at Toquepala and Cuajone. At Ilo, we have desalinization plants that produce water for industrial and domestic use that we believe are sufficient for our current and projected needs.
In Mexico, fuel is purchased directly or indirectly from Petróleos Mexicanos, (PEMEX), the state oil monopoly. Electricity for our Mexican operations, which is used as the main energy source at each mining complex we operate, is either purchased from the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (the Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE), the state electrical power producer, or steam-generated at Mexcobres smelter by recovering energy from the flash furnace through a waste heat boiler. Accordingly, a significant portion of our operating costs in Mexico are dependent upon the pricing policies of Pemex and CFE, which reflect government policy as well as international market prices for crude oil, natural gas and conditions in the refinery markets. Mexcobres natural gas pipeline (between Douglas, Arizona and Nacozari, Sonora) that began operating in May 1999, permits us to import natural gas from the United States into Mexico at market prices and thereby reduce operational costs. A contract with PEMEX, provides us with the option of using a fixed price for a portion of our natural gas purchases.
In December we announced our plans for a 450 Megawatt power generation plant in Mexico to supply our own facilities. We anticipate that the project, which is currently out for bids, will be built and managed by an independent power company and our obligation will be the supply of coal from our reserves and an agreement to use the power output. We expect this plant will give us the ability to better control the cost of our energy requirements, which are a major element of our operating costs. The project is expected
to be finished in 2008, is expected to create nearly 900 permanent jobs, 3,000 jobs during the construction stage and will exceed Mexican and international environmental standards
In Mexico, water is a national property and industries not connected to a public services water supply must obtain a water concession from Comisión Nacional del Agua (the National Water Commission, or CAN). Water usage fees are established in the Ley Federal Derechos, which distinguishes several availability zones with different fees per unit of volume according to each zone. All of our operations have one or several water concessions and, with the exception of Mexicana de Cobre, pump out the required water from one or several wells. Mexicana de Cobre pumps water from the La Angostura dam, which is close to the mine and plants. At our Cananea facility, we maintain our own wells and pay the CNA for water measured by usage. Water conservation committees have been established in each plant in order to conserve and recycle water. Water usage fees are updated on a yearly basis and have been increasing in recent years.
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 Combined Financial Statements.
MINING RIGHTS AND CONCESSIONS
We have 177,387 hectares in concessions from the Peruvian Government for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and/or production operations, distributed among our various sites as follows:
We believe that our Peruvian concessions are in full force and effect under applicable Peruvian laws and that we are in compliance with all material terms and requirements applicable to these concessions. The concessions have indefinite terms, subject to our payment of concession fees of up to $3.00 per hectare annually for the mining concessions and a fee based on nominal capacity for the processing concessions. Fees paid during 2005, 2004 and 2003 were approximately $0.8, $1.1 and $1.0 million, respectively. We have two types of mining concessions in Peru: metallic and non-metallic concessions. We also have water concessions for well fields at Huaitire, Titijones and Vizcachas and surface water rights from the Suches Lake, which together are sufficient to supply the needs of our Toquepala and Cuajone operating units.
In June 2004, the Peruvian Congress enacted legislation imposing a royalty charge to be paid by mining companies in favor of the regional governments and communities where mining resources are located. Under the new law, we are subject to a 1% to 3% tax, based on sales, applicable to the value of the concentrates produced in our Toquepala and Cuajone mines. We made provisions of $40.3 million and $17.6 million in 2005 and 2004 respectively, for this new tax which went into effect as of June 25, 2004. These provisions are included in cost of sales (exclusive of depreciation, amortization and depletion) on the Consolidated Combined Statement of Earnings.
In a ruling, the Peruvian Constitutional Tribunal stated that the royalty charge applies to all concessions held in the mining industry, implying that those entities with tax
stability contracts are subject to this charge. In 1996, we entered into a tax stability contract with the Peruvian government (a Guaranty and Promotional Measures for Investment Contract) relating to our own SX/EW production, which, among other things, fixes tax rates and other contributions relating to such production. We believe that the Constitutional Tribunals interpretation relating to entities with tax stability contracts is incorrect and we intend to protest the imposition of the royalty charge on our SX/EW production, when and if assessed. Provision made by us for the royalty charge does not include approximately $5.9 million of additional potential liability relating to our SX/EW production from June 30, 2004 through December 31, 2005.
In Mexico we have approximately 505,127 hectares in concessions from the Mexican Government for our exploration and exploitation activities as outlined in the table below.
We believe that our Mexican concessions are in full force and effect under applicable Mexican laws and that we are in compliance with all material terms and requirements applicable to these concessions. Under Mexican law, mineral resources belong to the Mexican nation and a concession from the Mexican federal government is required to explore (exploration concession) or mine mineral reserves (exploitation concession). Exploration concessions have a six-year term, at the end of which they have to be changed to exploitation concessions, which have a 50-year term that can be renewed for another 50 years. Exploration concessions have holding fees of up to $3 per hectare. Holding fees for exploitation concessions can be up to $15 per hectare. Fees paid during 2005, 2004, and 2003 were approximately $2.1 million, $1.8 million and $2.1 million, respectively. In addition, all of our operating units in Mexico have water concessions that are in full force and effect. We generally own the land to which our Mexican concessions relate, although ownership is not required in order to explore or mine a concession. We also own all of the processing facilities of our Mexican operations and the land on which they are constructed.
REPUBLIC OF PERU AND MEXICO
All of our revenues are derived principally from our operations in Peru and Mexico. Risks attendant to the Companys operations in both countries include our operations in those countries associated with economic and political conditions, effects of currency fluctuations and inflation, effects of government regulations and the geographic concentration of the Companys operations.
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 SECs Public Reference Room at 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for information on the Public Reference Room. The SEC maintains a web-site that contains annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information that issuers (including Southern Copper Corporation) file electronically with the SEC. The SECs web-site is www.sec.gov.
Our Internet address is www.southerncoppercorp.com. Commencing with the Form 8-K dated March 14, 2003, we have made available free of charge on this internet address our annual, quarterly and current reports, as soon as reasonably practical after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our web page includes the Corporate Governance guidelines and the charters of its most important Board Committees. However, the information found on our website is not part of this or any other report.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Every investor or potential investor in Southern Copper Corporation should carefully consider the following risk factors.
Risks Relating to Our Business Generally
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 and molybdenum. Historically, prices of the metals we produce have been subject to wide fluctuations and are affected by numerous factors beyond our control, including international economic and political conditions, levels of supply and demand, the availability and costs of substitutes, inventory levels maintained by users, actions of participants in the commodities markets and currency exchange rates. In addition, the market prices of copper and certain other metals have on occasion been subject to rapid short-term changes.
In 2005, an approximately 29% increase in copper prices on the LME, and the COMEX, and a 95% increase in molybdenum prices, contributed to an increase of approximately 33% in our total sales in 2005 as compared with 2004, this after an increase of approximately 96% in 2004. While the price of copper dropped to a 15-year low of $0.61 per pound in 2001, it has since increased by approximately 213.0% to $2.26 per pound as of February 28, 2006. The price of molybdenum has also recently increased significantly and is currently at historically high levels. The average annual price of molybdenum over the five-year period ended December 31, 2005 was $11.54 per pound, with a price per pound as of February 28, 2006 of $22.25 per pound. Over the past three years, as a result of this increase in molybdenum prices, molybdenum has become a significant contributor to our sales.
We cannot predict whether metals prices will rise or fall in the future. A decline in metals prices and, in particular, copper or molybdenum prices, could have an adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition, and we might, in very adverse market conditions, consider curtailing or modifying certain of our mining and processing operations.
Changes in the level of demand for our products could adversely affect our product sales.
Our revenue is dependent on the level of industrial and consumer demand for the concentrates and refined and semi-refined metal products we sell. Changes in technology, industrial processes and consumer habits may affect the level of that demand to the extent that changes increase or decrease the need for our metal products. A change in demand could impact our results of operations and financial condition.
Our actual reserves may not conform to our current estimates of our ore deposits.
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. Independent engineers have not verified these reserves estimates. 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, increased production costs, reduced recovery rates, short-term operating factors, royalty taxes and other factors may render proven and probable reserves uneconomic to exploit and may result in revisions of reserves data from time to time. Reserves data are not indicative of future results of operations. See Ore Reserves.
Our business requires capital expenditures which we may not be able to maintain.
Our business is capital intensive. Specifically, the exploration and exploitation of copper and other metal reserves, mining, smelting and refining costs, the maintenance of machinery and equipment and compliance with laws and regulations require capital expenditures. We must continue to invest capital to maintain or to increase the amount of copper reserves that we exploit and the amount of copper and other metals we produce. We cannot assure 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.
The expected benefits of our recent acquisition of Minera México, including expected synergies, may not be realized.
On April 1, 2005, we completed our acquisition of Minera México from AMC, a subsidiary of Grupo México, our controlling stockholder. We are now in the process of integrating two companies that previously had been affiliated but operated independently. We acquired Minera México based on a number of factors, including trends we believe may favor consolidation in the copper mining industry, potential improvement in production and our relative cost position, geographic diversification of our operations and potential operating synergies. We also considered potential negative effects in evaluating the transaction, including lower than expected mineral production from Minera México, diversion of managements attention and the risk that potential operating synergies may not be realized. We cannot assure you that the benefits we expect from the acquisition will be achieved or that potential negative effects will not be realized and adversely affect us.
Restrictive covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness and the indebtedness of our Minera México subsidiary may restrict our ability to pursue our business strategies.
Our financing instruments and those of our Minera México subsidiary include financial and other restrictive covenants that, among other things, limit our and Minera Mexicos abilities to incur additional debt and sell assets. If either we or our Minera México 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 México subsidiary is further limited by the terms of its outstanding notes, which also restrict the Companys applicable incurrence of debt and liens. In addition, future credit facilities may contain limitations on its incurrence of additional debt and liens and on its ability to dispose of assets. See Managements Discussion and of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital ResourcesFinancing.
Applicable law restricts the payment of dividends from our Minera México subsidiary to us.
Minera México is a Mexican company and, as such, may pay dividends only out of net income that has been approved by the shareholders. Shareholders must also approve the actual dividend payment, after mandatory legal reserves have been created and losses for prior fiscal years have been satisfied. As a result, these legal constraints may limit the ability of our Minera México subsidiary to pay dividends to us, which in turn, may have an impact on our ability to service debt.
Our operations are subject to risks, some of which are not insurable.
As shown by our recent tragic mining accident in Mexico, the business of mining, smelting and refining copper, zinc and other metals is subject to a number of risks and hazards, including industrial accidents, labor disputes, unusual or unexpected geological conditions, changes in the regulatory environment, environmental hazards and weather and other natural phenomena, such as earthquakes. Such occurrences could result
in damage to, or destruction of, mining operations resulting in monetary losses and possible legal liability. In particular, surface and underground mining and related processing activities present inherent risks of injury to personnel and damage to equipment. We maintain insurance against many of these and other risks, which may not provide adequate coverage in certain circumstances. Insurance against certain risks, including certain liabilities for environmental pollution or hazards as a result of exploration and production, is not generally available to us or other companies within the mining industry. We do not have, and do not intend to obtain, political risk insurance. These or other uninsured events may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
The loss of one of our large customers could have a negative impact on our results of operations.
The loss of one or more of our significant customers could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. In 2005, 2004 and 2003, our largest customer accounted for approximately 11.7%, 10.7% and 6.7%, respectively, of our sales. Additionally, our five largest customers in each of 2005, 2004 and 2003 collectively accounted for approximately 40.8%, 33.7% and 26.5%, respectively, of our sales.
Deliveries under our copper sales agreements can be suspended or cancelled by our customers in certain cases.
Under each of our copper sales agreements, we or our customers may suspend or cancel delivery of copper during a period of force majeure. Events of force majeure under these agreements include acts of nature, labor strikes, fires, floods, wars, transportation delays, government actions or other events that are beyond the control of the parties. Any suspension or cancellation by our customers of deliveries under our copper or other sales contracts that are not replaced by deliveries under new contracts or sales on the spot market would reduce our cash flow and could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
The copper mining industry is highly competitive.
We face competition from other copper mining and producing companies around the world. Although we are currently among the lowest cost copper producers in our region, we cannot assure you that competition from lower cost producers will not adversely affect us in the future.
In addition, mines have limited lives and, as a result, we must periodically seek to replace and expand our reserves by acquiring new properties. Significant competition exists to acquire properties producing or capable of producing copper and other metals.
The mining industry has experienced significant consolidation in recent years, including consolidation among some of our main competitors, as a result of which an increased percentage of copper production is from companies that also produce other products and may, consequently, be more diversified than we are. We cannot assure you that the result of current or further consolidation in the industry will not adversely affect us.
Potential changes to international trade agreements, trade concessions or other political and economic arrangements may benefit copper producers operating in countries other than Peru and Mexico, where our mining operations are currently located. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete on the basis of price or other factors with companies that in the future may benefit from favorable trading or other arrangements.
Increases in energy costs, accounting policy changes and other matters may adversely affect our results of operations.
We require substantial amounts of fuel oil, electricity and other resources for our operations. Fuel, gas and power costs constitute approximately 43.4% of our production
cost. We rely upon third parties for our supply of the energy resources consumed in our operations. The prices for and availability of energy resources may be subject to change or curtailment, respectively, due to, among other things, new laws or regulations, imposition of new taxes or tariffs, interruptions in production by suppliers, worldwide price levels and market conditions. For example, during the 1970s and 1980s, our ability to import fuel oil was restricted by Peruvian government policies that required us to purchase fuel oil domestically from a government-owned oil producer at prices substantially above those prevailing on the world market. In addition, in recent years the price of oil has risen dramatically due to a variety of factors. Disruptions in supply or increases in costs of energy resources could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We believe our results of operations can, from time to time, be affected by accounting policy changes, including the March 17, 2005 Emerging Issues Task Force, or EITF, consensus ratified by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, on March 30, 2005 and the subsequent modification to the transition provisions approved by the EITF in its June 15-16, 2005 meeting. The consensus states that stripping costs incurred during the production phase of a mine are variable production costs that should be included in the cost of the inventory produced (extracted) during the period that the stripping costs are incurred. On January 1, 2006 the Company adopted this consensus by reversing $499.5 million of net cumulative capitalized stripping cost and capitalized leach inventory cost as of December 31, 2005 and recording a net charge of $322.9 million to retained earnings after the recognition of a workers participation and tax benefit of $176.6 million. In addition, near-term future years operating income could be negatively impacted to the extent that costs previously capitalized are expensed. For further discussions see Notes to consolidated combined financial statements Impact of new accounting standards.
A 2005 Mexican Supreme Court decision reduced our results by requiring increased workers profit sharing payments by our Minera México subsidiary. In May 2005, the court rendered a decision that changed the method of computing the amount of statutory workers profit-sharing required to be paid by certain Mexican companies, including Minera México. The courts ruling in effect prohibited applying net operating loss carryforwards in computing the income used as the base for determining the workers profit sharing amounts, as further described under Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital ResourcesOther Liquidity Considerations.
Additionally, we expect our future results will continue to be affected by the recently-enacted Peruvian mining royalty charge, which has reduced our earnings in the second half of 2004 and the year 2005, as further described under BusinessMining Rights and ConcessionsPeru.
We may be adversely affected by labor disputes.
In the last several years we have experienced a number of strikes or other labor disruptions that have had an adverse impact on our operations and operating results. See BusinessEmployees. For example, in Peru, on August 31, 2004, unionized workers at our mining units in Toquepala and Cuajone initiated work stoppages and sought additional wage increases based on high metals prices. The strike was resolved on September 13, 2004. Additionally, in February 2006 construction workers at the Ilo Smelter modernization project went on strike and blocked access to our Ilo production facilities. Our Ilo refinery and smelter production was interrupted for a short period before the matter was resolved. This disruption did not significantly affect our production.
In Mexico, on October 26, 2005 the workers at our La Caridad mining complex went on strike claiming that the Company still owed them profit sharing from 2003. The strike was declared illegal and the workers returned to work two days later after the Company agreed to pay each worker approximately $900.00. The total paid was $3.1 million. On July 12, 2004, the workers of Mexcobre went on strike asking for the review of certain
contractual clauses. Such a review was performed and the workers returned to work 18 days later. On October 15, 2004, the workers of Mexcananea went on strike, followed by the Mexicana de Cobre workers. The strike lasted for 6 days at Mexicana de Cobre and 9 days at Mexicana de Cananea. In each case, our operations at the particular mine ceased until the strike was resolved. In Mexico, collective bargaining agreements are negotiated every year in respect of salaries and every two years for other benefits. We cannot assure you that 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.
Environmental, health and safety laws and other regulations may increase our costs of doing business, restrict our operations or result in operational delays.
Our exploration, mining, milling, smelting and refining activities are subject to a number of Peruvian and Mexican laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations, as well as certain industry technical standards. Additional matters subject to regulation include, but are not limited to, concession fees, transportation, production, water use and discharge, power use and generation, use and storage of explosives, surface rights, housing and other facilities for workers, reclamation, taxation, labor standards, mine safety and occupational health.
Environmental regulations in Peru and Mexico have become increasingly stringent over the last decade and we have been required to dedicate more time and money to compliance and remediation activities. Furthermore, Mexican authorities have become more rigorous and strict in enforcing Mexican environmental laws. We expect additional laws and regulations will be enacted over time with respect to environmental matters. Recently, Peruvian environmental laws have been enacted imposing closure and remediation obligations on the mining industry. 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. The development of more stringent environmental protection programs in Peru and Mexico and in relevant trade agreements could impose constraints and additional costs on our operations and require us to make significant capital expenditures in the future. We cannot assure you that future legislative, regulatory or trade developments will not have an adverse effect on our business, properties, results of operations, financial condition or prospects.
Our metals exploration efforts are highly speculative in nature and may be unsuccessful.
Metals exploration is highly speculative in nature, involves many risks and is frequently unsuccessful. Once mineralization is discovered, it may take a number of years from the initial phases of drilling before production is possible, during which time the economic feasibility of production may change. Substantial expenditures are required to establish proven and probable ore reserves through drilling, to determine metallurgical processes to extract the metals from the ore and, in the case of new properties, to construct mining and processing facilities. We cannot assure you that our exploration programs will result in the expansion or replacement of current production with new proven and probable ore reserves.
Development projects have no operating history upon which to base estimates of proven and probable ore reserves and estimates of future cash operating costs. Estimates are, to a large extent, based upon the interpretation of geological data obtained from drill holes and other sampling techniques, and feasibility studies that derive estimates of cash operating costs based upon anticipated tonnage and grades of ore to be mined and processed, the configuration of the ore body, expected recovery rates of the mineral from the ore, comparable facility and equipment operating costs, anticipated climatic conditions and other factors. As a result, actual cash operating costs and economic returns based upon development of proven and probable ore reserves may differ significantly from those originally estimated. Moreover, significant decreases in actual or expected prices may mean reserves, once found, will be uneconomical to produce.
Our profits may be negatively affected by currency exchange rate fluctuations.
Our assets, earnings and cash flows are influenced by various currencies due to the geographic diversity of our sales and the countries in which we operate. As some of our costs are incurred in currencies other than our functional currency, the U.S. dollar, fluctuations in currency exchange rates may have a significant impact on our financial results. These costs principally include electricity, labor, maintenance, operation contractors and fuel. For the year ended December 31, 2005, a substantial portion of our costs were denominated in a currency other than U.S. dollar. Operating costs are influenced by the currencies of the countries where our mines and processing plants are located and also by those currencies in which the costs of equipment and services are determined. The Peruvian nuevo sol, the Mexican peso and the U.S. dollar are the most important currencies influencing costs.
The U.S. dollar is our functional currency and our revenues are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars. However, portions of our operating costs are denominated in Peruvian nuevos soles and Mexican pesos. Accordingly, when inflation in Peru or Mexico increases without a corresponding devaluation of the nuevo sol or peso, our financial position, results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected. To manage the volatility related to the risk of currency rate fluctuations, we may enter into forward exchange contracts. We cannot assure you, however, that currency fluctuations will not have an impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Further, in the past there has been a strong correlation between copper prices and the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. A strengthening of the U.S. dollar may therefore be accompanied by lower copper prices, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We may be adversely affected by challenges relating to slope stability.
Our open-pit mines get deeper as we mine them, presenting certain geotechnical challenges including the possibility of slope failure. If we are required to decrease pit slope angles or provide additional road access to prevent such a failure, our stated reserves could be negatively affected. Further, hydrological conditions relating to pit slopes, renewal of material displaced by slope failures and increased stripping requirements could also negatively affect our stated reserves. We have taken actions in order to maintain slope stability, but we cannot assure you that we will not have to take additional action in the future or that our actions taken to date will be sufficient. Unexpected failure or additional requirements to prevent slope failure may negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition, as well as have the effect of diminishing our stated ore reserves.
Litigation involving Asarco may adversely affect us.
Our direct and indirect parent corporations, including AMC and Grupo México, have from time to time been named parties in various litigations involving ASARCO LLC (Asarco). Asarco, a mining company, is indirectly wholly owned by Grupo México. In March 2003, AMC purchased its interest in SCC from Asarco. In August 2002 the U.S. Department of Justice brought a claim alleging fraudulent conveyance in connection with Asarcos environmental liabilities and AMCs then-proposed purchase of SCC from Asarco. That action was settled pursuant to a Consent Decree dated February 2, 2003. The consent decree is binding solely on the U.S. government. In October 2004, AMC, Grupo México, Mexicana de Cobre and other parties, not including SCC, were named in a lawsuit filed in New York State court in connection with alleged asbestos liabilities, which lawsuit claims, among other matters, that AMCs purchase of SCC from Asarco should be voided as a fraudulent conveyance. While Grupo México and its affiliates believe that these claims are without merit, we cannot assure you that these or future claims, if successful, will not have an adverse effect on our parent corporations or us. Any increase in the financial obligations of our parent corporations, as a result of matters related to Asarco or otherwise could, among other matters result in our parent corporations attempting to obtain increased dividends or other funding from us. In
2005, certain subsidiaries of Asarco filed bankruptcy petitions in connection with alleged asbestos liabilities. In July 2005, the unionized workers of Asarco commenced a work stoppage. The work stoppage was settled in November 2005 with the extension of the existing contract for an additional thirteen month period until December 31, 2006. A further deterioration of the financial condition of Asarco could result in additional claims being filed against Grupo México and its subsidiaries, including SCC, Minera México or its subsidiaries. As a result of various factors, including the above mentioned work stoppage, in August 2005, Asarco LLC entered into bankruptcy proceedings under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Corpus Christi, Texas. Asarcos bankruptcy case is being joined with the bankruptcy cases of its subsidiaries. Asarco is in continuing possession of its properties and is operating and managing its businesses as a debtor in possession. Asarco believes that by utilizing the Chapter 11 process it can achieve an orderly restructuring of its business and finally resolve, among other contingencies, its environmental and asbestos claims. However, it is impossible to predict how the bankruptcy court will ultimately rule with respect to such petitions and the impact such rulings will have on Asarco and its subsidiaries and ultimately upon us.
We are controlled by Grupo México, which exercises significant influence over our affairs and policies and whose interests may be different from yours.
Grupo México owns indirectly approximately 75.1% of our capital stock. We own substantially all of Minera Méxicos capital stock. In addition, certain of our and Minera Méxicos officers and directors are also officers of Grupo México. We cannot assure you that the interests of Grupo México will not conflict with yours.
Grupo México has the ability to determine the outcome of substantially all matters submitted for a vote to our stockholders and thus exercises control over our business policies and affairs, including the following:
the composition of our board of directors and, as a result, any determinations of our board with respect to our business direction and policy, including the appointment and removal of our officers;
determinations with respect to mergers and other business combinations, including those that may result in a change of control;
whether dividends are paid or other distributions are made and the amount of any dividends or other distributions;
sales and dispositions of our assets; and
the amount of debt financing that we incur.
In addition, we and Minera México have in the past engaged in, and expect to continue to engage in, transactions with Grupo México and its other affiliates that may present conflicts of interest. For additional information regarding the share ownership of, and our relationships with, Grupo México and its affiliates, see Related Party Transactions.
We may pay a significant amount of our net income as cash dividends on our common stock in the future.
We have distributed a significant amount of our net income as dividends since 1996. Our dividend practice is subject to change at the discretion of our board of directors at any time. The amount that we pay in dividends is subject to a number of factors, including our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, tax considerations, future prospects, legal restrictions, contractual restrictions in credit agreements, limitations imposed by the government of Peru, Mexico or other countries where we have significant operations and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. We anticipate paying a significant amount of our net income as cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Such payments would reduce cash available to meet our debt service obligations.
Risks Associated with Doing Business in Peru and Mexico
There is uncertainty as to the termination and renewal of our mining concessions.
Under the laws of Peru and Mexico, mineral resources belong to the state and government concessions are required in both countries to explore for or exploit mineral reserves. In Peru, our mineral rights derive from concessions from the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines for our exploration, exploitation, extraction and/or production operations. In June 2004, the Peruvian Congress enacted legislation imposing a royalty to be paid by mining companies in favor of the regional governments and communities where mining resources are located. Under the new law, we are subject to a 1% to 3% tax, based on sales, applicable to the value of the concentrates produced in our Toquepala and Cuajone mines. See BusinessMining Rights and ConcessionsPeru. In Mexico, our mineral rights derive from concessions granted, on a discretionary basis, by the Secretaría de Economía (Ministry of Economy), pursuant to the Ley Minera (the Mining Law) and regulations thereunder.
Mining concessions in both Peru and Mexico may be terminated if the obligations of the concessionaire are not satisfied. In Peru, we are obligated to pay certain fees for our mining concession. In Mexico, we are obligated, among other things, to explore or exploit the relevant concession, to pay any relevant fees, to comply with all environmental and safety standards, to provide information to the Ministry of Economy and to allow inspections by the Ministry of Economy. Any termination or unfavorable modification of the terms of one or more of our concessions, or failure to obtain renewals of such concessions subject to renewal or extensions, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and prospects.
Peruvian economic and political conditions may have an adverse impact on our business.
A significant part of our operations are conducted in Peru. Accordingly, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be affected by changes in economic or other policies of the Peruvian government or other political, regulatory or economic developments in Peru. During the past several decades, Peru has had a history of political instability that has included military coups and a succession of regimes with differing policies and programs. Past governments have frequently intervened in the nations economy and social structure. Among other actions, past governments have imposed controls on prices, exchange rates and local and foreign investment as well as limitations on imports, have restricted the ability of companies to dismiss employees, have expropriated private sector assets (including mining companies) and have prohibited the remittance of profits to foreign investors.
From 1985 through 1990, during the Alan García administration, government policies restricted our ability, among other things, to repatriate funds and import products from abroad. In addition, currency exchange rates were strictly controlled and all exports sales were required to be deposited in Perus Banco Central de Reserva, where they were exchanged from U.S. dollars to the Peruvian currency at less-than-favorable rates of exchange. These policies generally had an adverse effect on our results of operations. Controls on repatriation of funds limited the ability of our stockholders to receive dividends outside of Peru but did not limit the ability of our stockholders to receive distributions of earnings in Peru.
In July 1990, Alberto Fujimori was elected president, and his administration implemented a broad-based reform of Perus economic and social conditions aimed at stabilizing the economy, restructuring the national government by reducing bureaucracy, privatizing state-owned companies, promoting private investment, developing and strengthening free markets and enacting programs for the strengthening of basic services related to education, health, housing and infrastructure. After taking office for his third term in July 2000 under extreme protest, President Fujimori was forced to call for general elections due to the outbreak of corruption scandals, and later resigned in favor of a transitory government headed by the president of Congress, Valentín Paniagua.
Mr. Paniagua took office in November 2000 and in July 2001 handed over the presidency to Alejandro Toledo, the winner of the elections decided in the second round held on June 3, 2001, ending two years of political turmoil. Since his election, President Toledo has retained, for the most part, the economic policies of the previous government, focusing on promoting private investment, eliminating tax exemptions, reducing underemployment and unemployment and privatizing state-owned companies in various sectors including energy, mining and public services. President Toledo also implemented fiscal austerity programs, among other proposals, in order to stimulate the economy. Despite Perus moderate economic growth, the Toledo administration has at times faced public unrest spurred by the high rates of unemployment, underemployment and poverty. President Toledo has been forced to restructure his cabinet on several occasions to quell public unrest and to maintain his political alliances.
Given that the Toledo administration continues to face a fragmented Congress and continuing public unrest, we cannot assure you that the government will continue its current economic policies or that Perus recent economic growth will be sustained. In addition, presidential elections are expected to be held in Peru in the second quarter of 2006, which may mean a change in Perus economic policies. Because we have significant operations in Peru, future Peruvian governmental actions could have an adverse effect on market conditions, prices and returns on our securities, and on our business, results of operations, financial condition, ability to obtain financing and prospects.
There is a risk of terrorism in Peru relating to Sendero Luminoso and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, which were particularly active in the 1980s and early 1990s. We cannot guarantee that acts by these or other terrorist organizations will not adversely affect our operations in the future.
Mexican economic and political conditions may have an adverse impact on our business.
A significant part of our operations are based in Mexico. In the past, Mexico has experienced both prolonged periods of weak economic conditions and dramatic deterioration in economic conditions, characterized by exchange rate instability and significant devaluation of the peso, increased inflation, high domestic interest rates, a substantial outflow of capital, negative economic growth, reduced consumer purchasing power and high unemployment. An economic crisis occurred in 1995 in the context of a series of internal disruptions and political events including a large current account deficit, civil unrest in the southern state of Chiapas, the assassination of two prominent political figures, a substantial outflow of capital and a significant devaluation of the peso. We cannot assure you that such conditions will not recur, that other unforeseen negative political or social conditions will not arise or that such conditions will not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (the National Action Party), or PAN, was elected president. Although his election ended more than 70 years of presidential rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (the Institutional Revolutionary Party), or PRI, neither the PAN nor the PRI succeeded in securing a majority in the Mexican congress. In elections in 2003 and 2004, the PAN lost additional seats in the Mexican Congress and state governorships. The lack of a majority party in the legislature and the lack of alignment between the legislature and the executive branch have resulted in legislative gridlock, which is expected to continue at least until the Mexican presidential elections in 2006. Such legislative gridlock has impeded the progress of structural reforms in Mexico, which may have a material adverse effect on the Mexican economy and cause disruptions to our operations. Furthermore, economic plans of the Mexican government in the past have not, in certain respects, fully achieved their objectives, and we cannot assure you that any reforms that are undertaken will achieve their stated goals. Because we have significant operations in Mexico, we cannot provide any assurance that current legislative gridlock and/or future political developments in Mexico, including the 2006 presidential and
congressional elections, will not have a material adverse effect on market conditions, prices and returns on our securities, our ability to obtain financing, and our results of operations and financial condition.
Peruvian inflation, reduced economic growth and fluctuations in the nuevo sol exchange rate may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Over the past several decades, Peru has experienced periods of high inflation, slow or negative economic growth and substantial currency devaluation. The inflation rate in Peru, as measured by the Indice de Precios al Consumidor and published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática, the National Institute of Statistics, has fallen from a high of 7,649.7% in 1990 to 1.5% in 2005. The Peruvian currency has been devalued numerous times during the last 20 years. The devaluation rate has decreased from a high of 4,019.3% in 1990 to 4.5% in 2005. Our revenues are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars and our operating expenses are partly denominated in U.S. dollars. If inflation in Peru were to increase without a corresponding devaluation of the nuevo sol relative to the U.S. dollar, our financial position and results of operations, and the market price of our common stock, could be affected. Although the Peruvian governments stabilization plan has significantly reduced inflation and the Peruvian economy has experienced moderate growth in recent years, we cannot assure you that inflation will not increase from its current level or that such growth will continue in the future at similar rates or at all.
Among the economic circumstances that could lead to a devaluation of the nuevo sol is the decline of Peruvian foreign reserves to inadequate levels. Perus foreign reserves at February 28, 2006, were $14.0 billion as compared to $12.6 billion at December 31, 2004. We cannot assure you that Peru will be able to maintain adequate foreign reserves to meet its foreign currency denominated obligations or that Peru will not devalue its currency should its foreign reserves decline.
Mexican inflation, restrictive exchange control policies and fluctuations in the peso exchange rate may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Although all of our Mexican operations sales of metals are priced and invoiced in U.S. dollars, a substantial portion of our Mexican operations cost of sales are denominated in pesos. Accordingly, when inflation in Mexico increases without a corresponding devaluation of the peso, as it did in 2000, 2001 and 2002, the net income generated by our Mexican operations is adversely affected.
The annual inflation rate in Mexico was 3.3% in 2005, 5.2% in 2004 and 4.0% in 2003. The Mexican government has publicly announced that it does not expect inflation to exceed 3.0% in 2006. At the same time, the peso has been subject in the past to significant devaluation, which may not have been proportionate to the inflation rate and may not be proportionate to the inflation rate in the future. The value of the peso declined by 4.9% in 2005 and increased by 0.3% in 2004 and 9.0% in 2003.
While the Mexican government does not currently restrict the ability of Mexican companies or individuals to convert pesos into dollars or other currencies, in the future, the Mexican government could impose a restrictive exchange control policy, as it has done in the past. We cannot assure you that the Mexican government will maintain its current policies with regard to the peso or that the pesos value will not fluctuate significantly in the future. The imposition of such exchange control policies could impair Minera Méxicos ability to obtain imported goods and to meet its U.S. dollar-denominated obligations and could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Developments in other emerging market countries and in the United States may adversely affect the prices of our common stock and our debt securities.
The market value of securities of companies with significant operations in Peru and Mexico is, to varying degrees, affected by economic and market conditions in other
emerging market countries. Although economic conditions in such countries may differ significantly from economic conditions in Peru or Mexico, as the case may be, investors reactions to developments in any of these other countries may have an adverse effect on the market value or trading price of the securities, including debt securities, of issuers that have significant operations in Peru or Mexico.
In addition, in recent years economic conditions in Mexico have increasingly become correlated to U.S. economic conditions. Therefore, adverse economic conditions in the United States could also have a significant adverse effect on Mexican economic conditions including the price of our debt securities. We cannot assure you that the market value or trading prices of our common stock and debt securities, will not be adversely affected by events in the United States or elsewhere, including in emerging market countries.
Item 2. Properties
We were incorporated in Delaware in 1952. Our corporate offices in the United States are located at 2575 East Camelback Road, Suite 500, Phoenix, Arizona 85016. Our telephone number in Phoenix, Arizona is (602) 977-6595. 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 its business.
The following table sets forth as of December 31, 2005, the locations of production facilities by reportable segment, the processes used, as well as the key production and capacity data for each location:
koz = thousands of ounces
ktpd = thousands of tons per day
ktpy = thousands of tons per year
tpy = tons per year
(1) Our estimates of actual capacity contemplating normal operating conditions with allowance for normal downtime for repairs and maintenance and based on the average metal content for the relevant period.
(2) At December 31, 2005, the coal reserves for the Nueva Rosita coal were 66,981,498 tons with average sulfur content of 1.0% and a BTU content of 8800 per pound.
SUMMARY OPERATING DATA
The following table sets out certain operating data underlying our combined financial and operating information for each of the periods indicated.
(1) Platts Metals Week Dealer Oxide
Ore reserves are those estimated quantities of proven and probable material that may be economically mined and processed for extraction of their mineral content. Ore reserve estimates are based on engineering evaluations of assay values derived from the sampling of drill holes and other openings. We believe that the samplings taken are spaced at intervals close enough to render the estimates reliable. The ore reserves estimates include assessments of the metallurgy to determine copper recovery by flotation process and column leaching, as well as economic, marketing, legal, environmental, governmental, and other necessary considerations.
Annually our engineering department reviews in detail the reserve computations. In addition, the engineering department reviews the computation when changes in assumptions occur. Changes can occur for price or cost assumptions, results in field drilling or new geotechnical parameters. We also engage third party consultants to review mine planning procedures.
Pursuant to SEC guidance, the reserves information in this report are calculated using average metals prices over the most recent three years unless otherwise stated. We refer to these three-year average metals prices as current prices. Our current prices for copper are calculated using prices quoted by COMEX, and our current prices for molybdenum are calculated according to Platts Metals Week. Unless otherwise stated, reserves estimates in this report use $1.261 per pound for copper and $17.817 per pound for molybdenum, both current prices as of December 31, 2005. The current prices for copper and molybdenum were $0.939 and $8.425 as of December 31, 2004 and $0.751 and $3.81 as of December 31, 2003.
For purposes of our long-term planning, our management uses metals price assumptions of $0.90 per pound for copper and $4.50 per pound for molybdenum. These prices are intended to approximate average prices over the long term. Our management uses these price assumptions, as it believes these prices reflect the full price cycle of the metals market.
For Peruvian operations, commencing in 2003, we have used reserves estimates based on current average prices as of the most recent year then ended to determine the amount of mine stripping that is capitalized, units of production amortization of capitalized mine stripping and amortization of intangible assets. In calculating such items in the case of our Minera Mexico subsidiary for periods prior to 2005, we have used reserves estimates based on the longer-term price assumptions discussed above.
We periodically reevaluate estimates of our ore reserves, which represent our estimate as to the amount of unmined copper remaining in our existing mine locations that can be produced and sold at a profit. These estimates are based on engineering evaluations derived from samples of drill holes and other openings, combined with assumptions about copper market prices and production costs at each of our mines.
For more information regarding our reserve estimates, see Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of OperationsCritical Accounting Policies and EstimatesOre Reserves
COPPER AND MOLYBDENUM RESERVES BY SITE:
The table below details our copper and molybdenum reserves as estimated at December 31, 2005.
(1) The Cuajone, Toquepala, Cananea and La Caridad concentrator recoveries calculated for these reserves were 83.7%, 87.0%, 81.0% and 82.59%, respectively, obtained by using recovery formulas according to the different milling capacity and geo-metallurgical zones.
(2) The Immsa Unit includes the Charcas, Santa Bárbara, San Martin, Santa Eulalia and Taxco mines.
(3) In preparing the sensitivity analysis, we recalculated our reserves based on the assumption that current average metal prices were 20% higher and 20% lower, respectively, than the actual current average prices for year-end 2005. Reserve results of this sensitivity analysis are not proportional to the increase or decrease in metal price assumptions. The analysis above does not include our Immsa Units underground mines, for which the sensitivity analysis is as follows:
(4) Copper contained in ore reserves for open-pit mines is (i) the product of sulfide ore reserves and the average copper grade plus (ii) the product of in-pit leachable reserves and the average copper grade. Copper contained in ore reserves for underground mines is the product of sulfide ore reserves and the average copper grade
The following is the average drill-hole spacing for proven and probable sulfide reserves:
As of December 31, 2005
The table below details our copper and molybdenum reserves as of December 31, 2005 calculated based on long-term price assumptions of, $0.90 for copper and $4.50 for molybdenum.