AREQUIPA, Peru, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp said on Tuesday that opposition to its Tia Maria project in southern Peru is easing thanks to a door-to-door campaign in communities where activists derailed the project with protests earlier this year.
Chief Executive Oscar Gonzalez said he still hopes to get the $1.4 billion copper project in the region of Arequipa back on track this year.
"If it doesn't happen this year it will happen next," Gonzalez told reporters on the sidelines of a mining conference. "It must happen."
Southern Copper, controlled by Grupo Mexico, put the project on hold in May after rallies against it turned violent.
Since then, the company has ramped up efforts to dispel fears Tia Maria would pollute surrounding agricultural valleys. A new campaign includes house-by-house visits to explain its plans for the proposed mine.
"The opposition is, for us, less and less and we expect it to continue diminishing," Gonzalez said.
A construction permit for the 120,000-tonnes-per-year project was pending when renewed protests broke out in March. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by James Dalgleish)