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SANTIAGO, April 14 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp expects to obtain a construction permit for its $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper project in Peru in the next few months, a senior executive said on Tuesday, playing down concerns that local opposition may disrupt its development.
Speaking on the sidelines of the CRU Copper conference, Oscar Gonzalez Rocha, the chief executive officer and president, said the mine in the Arequipa region is slated to go into production by the end of 2017 or the start of 2018.
His comments came after the head of institutional relations, Julio Morriberon, last month threatened that the company would walk away from the project due to lack of support from regional authorities and continued local opposition.
At the time, Rocha was forced to back off the warning, which hurt the company's share price.
"It was something emotional, he said it because he was frustrated," Rocha said on Tuesday. Local oppositions groups say the mine would pollute agricultural valleys.
Rocha said the company, in which Grupo Mexico owns a controlling stake, will secure building permits for the $1.2 billion expansion of its Toquepala mine later this month. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)