Southern Copper might close Peru refinery -company email

LIMA, July 5 Fri Jul 5, 2013 2:37pm EDT

LIMA, July 5 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp is considering closing its foundry and refinery in southern Peru because it does not think it will be able to meet tighter pollution standards, according to a company document.

The global miner, a unit of Grupo Mexico, said in an email circulated among employees this week that it is impossible to comply with limits on sulfur dioxide emissions that take effect at the start of 2014.

Reuters obtained a copy of the email. A source at the company confirmed the document's authenticity.

It is unclear how such a closure would affect the company's annual copper output, which the firm has estimated at about 650,000 tonnes this year.

Southern Copper said in the email that while the government has extended the deadline for complying with the stricter pollution standard, the technology that would enable the company to comply "does not exist."

"In our case it is possible that we see ourselves forced to close the foundry and refinery in Ilo," said the email, signed by Chairman and Chief Executive Oscar Gonzalez.

Peru's environment ministry, which introduced the new air quality standards, was not available for immediate comment. But in an April press release it said the new rules were reasonable and long overdue.

"The technology for reducing sulfur dioxide emissions has been around for many years. Unfortunately, in our country it was introduced long after our industrial plants and refineries started operating," the press release said.

Some 2,500 people work at Southern Copper's units in Cuajone, Toquepala and Ilo.

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