SMM10, March 25-as local resistance to copper projects weakens significantly, the chief financial officer of Southern Copper expects the government to issue construction permits for the Tia Maria mine by the end of the year. Raul Jacob, the company's chief financial officer, said the company was working with the Peruvian government to obtain a license. Southern Copper plans to invest US $1.4 billion in the project, which will produce 120000 tons of copper per year. The company has signed a three-year contract with four of the six unions in Peru to raise wages by 5 per cent a year, and expects to complete negotiations with the remaining two unions by the end of the year. Southern copper will increase its copper production target to more than 1 million tons next year, an increase of 1.5 million tons by 2025 and a target of 885000 tons this year.