Dec 10 (Reuters) - Peru said on Friday it expects to approve the environmental impact studies for copper projects of Southern Copper, Xstrata and Chinalco by the middle of 2011, which would give the green light to $7 billion in investments.
The government will approve environmental impact for controversial Southern Copper's (SCCO.N) Tia Maria mine in the second-quarter of 2011, Mines and Energy Minister Pedro Sanchez said to journalists.
Peruvians in the southern region of Arequipa have opposed the $1 billion Southern Copper project over worriesabout water supplies. Tia Maria will produce 120,000 tonnes of copper concentrates per year, according to the company.
Southern Copper is a unit of Grupo Mexico (GMEXICOB.MX) and one of the world's largest copper producers.
Sanchez also said that his ministry will approve the environmental study for Chinese miner Chinalco's $2.2 billion Toromocho project before the end of this year.
Chinalco recently said that it expects to open the Peruvian copper mine -- which will produce 900,000 tonnes of copper concentrates per year -- in the second-quarter of 2013 instead of late 2012 as it works to get all its permits from the government.
Peru will also expects to approve Anglo-Swiss Xstrata's (XTA.L) copper project Las Bambas before the end of President Alan Garcia term in July of 2011, Sanchez said.
Las Bambas will require investments for $4.2 billion and produce some 400,000 copper concentrates per year.
Peru is the world's second biggest copper producer after neighboring Chile.