On May 12, 2015, Southern Copper Corporation filed a Form 8K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stating that its Peruvian branch publicly rejected allegations by a local TV station in Peru that it offered bribes to protest leaders in exchange for an end to the demonstrations against its proposed mining operation there. Southern Copper is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and majority-owned by Mexico’s largest mining company, Grupo México. The ongoing protests, which have left three dead and more than 200 injured, are in response to proposals for Southern Copper’s Tia Maria mining project, which is estimated to produce 120,000 metric tons of copper cathodes each year for the next 20 years. Southern Copper is currently awaiting a construction permit to begin operations on the Tia Maria project after the Peruvian government approved its environmental impact assessment in August 2014.
In May, a local Peruvian television channel reported that a former lawyer for Southern Copper met with and offered bribes to a leading opponent of the mine to broker an end to the protests. Southern Copper has maintained that the lawyer was not representing the company, and acted on his own during the conversation. Peru’s Energy and Mines Minister, Rosa Ortiz, refused to continue talks with Southern Copper about its construction permit after a purported audio recording of the conversation between the lawyer and the protest leader surfaced. Ortiz has requested that German Larrea, the CEO of Grupo México, come to Lima to explain the company’s role in the matter.
In light of the increasingly violent protests, on May 15, Southern Copper announced a formal 60-day suspension to the mining project development schedule.
To learn more, please see the coverage in Reuters.