LIMA, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Peru is losing its competitive edge in mining because of a growing tangle of red tape that is holding up exploration projects already hit by weak metal prices, the chief executive of a top Peruvian precious metals miner said Tuesday.
"It's getting harder and harder to work," Buenaventura's Roque Benavides said at a mining convention on a panel with a top mining official.
The criticism was a rare public display of friction between miners and government officials as slumping metal prices sap investments in Peru, a top copper, zinc and gold producer.
Deputy Mines Minister Guillermo Shinno denied that permitting has gotten worse. Shinno was sitting in for Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz, whom he said could not attend the Perumin convention because of a key cabinet meeting.
"Companies always want more," Shinno said. "I've explained to them how we have made progress. There is definitely more we can do but we are advancing."
President Ollanta Humala's government has cut environmental fines and introduced several reforms aimed at streamlining permits during an economic slowdown over the past two years. (Reporting By Teresa Cespedes; Editing by Michael Perry)