Blockade underway at Goldcorp's Penasquito mine in Mexico

MEXICO CITY/TORONTO (Reuters) - Protesters in northern Mexico blocked access to the Penasquito mining complex operated by Goldcorp Inc on Thursday, but the company said operations were unaffected and the issue would be resolved quickly.

Vancouver-based Goldcorp said the blockade was illegal and caused by a trucking contractor concerned about losing business due to efficiency improvements at the mine.

“The blockade is not affecting operations. We have met with the contractor’s representatives and expect this to be resolved shortly,” spokeswoman Christine Marks said in an email.

The blockade, which includes landowners and truck drivers, began on Monday, Felipe Pinedo, one of the protest leaders, said in a telephone interview. Demands include payment for environmental damages, jobs, and water for their communities, he added.

In late August, Reuters reported on a long-running leak of contaminated water, which had not been disclosed to the public, at the mine, Mexico’s biggest gold deposit.

A source close to the company, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the blockade risked interrupting production at the mine, which was operating below capacity. Last year, Penasquito produced 860,300 ounces of gold, a quarter of Goldcorp’s total production.

“If the blockade is not lifted immediately, the company will not have material by Saturday,” he said.

Reporting by Noe Torres and Susan Taylor; Editing by Michael Perry and Richard Chang