LIMA, May 21 (Reuters) - The Peruvian government's 2024 copper production goal of 3 million metric tons is realistic, senior industry executives said on Tuesday, as the country seeks to boost mining investments to help lift the economy out of recession.

The South American country produced 2.76 million tons of copper last year, dropping its rank from first to second for global production of the red metal. It still ranks first globally for export volumes.

Mining is key to Peru's economy, which fell into a recession in 2023 due to adverse climate effects, social conflicts and a drop in investments.

"The 3 million ton projection is realistic," Carlos Castro, manager of corporate affairs and business development at Minera Las Bambas, told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of a forum attended by global mining executives.

Las Bambas, owned by the China's MMG Ltd, has seen production drop in the recent years in the midst of social protests by residents demanding greater benefits from the mine.

"It's a reasonable projection," said Raul Jacob, vice president of finance at Southern Copper, the country's third-largest copper producer.

Southern Copper hopes to increase its copper production by 20% this year from 2023, when it extracted 374,149 tons of the metal, according to government figures.

Peru's Mining and Energy Minister Romulo Mucho announced the 3-million-ton goal in March.

"We're going to break the record this year, we can do it, the first three months of the year show that we're growing," Mucho said on Tuesday.

Miners' confidence comes as copper prices hit two-year highs.

Victor Gobitz, president of Antamina, Peru's second-largest copper producer, said the forecast is "very optimistic," but still achievable. "I would estimate production will land in the 2.8 to 3 million tons range."

Antamina, which is controlled by Glencore, BHP, Teck and Mitsubishi, produced 435,378 tons of copper last year, and hopes to maintain that level in 2024.

In the last year, Peru has granted environmental permits for the expansion of some key projects and expects the construction of others such as Southern Copper's Tia Maria.

Southern Copper's long-stalled $1.4 billion Tia Maria project in Peru is set to break ground by the end of the year or in the first half of 2025, according to a senior company executive. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by David Gregorio)