LIMA, April 24 (Reuters) - Peru's energy and mines minister said on Friday that the government could ask Southern Copper Corp to make additional changes to its $1.4 billion Tia Maria project after protests by farmers turned deadly this week.
Rosa Maria Ortiz said the government was prioritizing establishing dialogue with the project's opponents, who fear it will pollute surrounding agricultural valleys.
The government could ask for modifications to the project's environmental impact study if it felt it was necessary, Ortiz told foreign journalists at a press conference.
Peru approved the environmental impact study for Tia Maria in August after the company agreed to build a desalinization plant to avoid using local water supplies.
Ortiz said she was "optimistic" that the project, stalled since 2011, would start operating in 2017 as the company now expects.
She said the government was evaluating whether to issue a construction permit for the project and could make a decision in two months. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)