The director of the mining company robbed of $8.5 million in gold in Mexico has made the rare revelation it has a "good relationship" with area drug traffickers.

Rob McEwen of Canada-based McEwen Mining Inc. says company employees ask the drug cartels for permission before they explore.

McEwen spoke Thursday in a televised interview with Canada's Business News Network. He says the cartels sometimes deny access, telling the company to "come back ... we've finished what we're doing." He said the company had not suffered any other crime.

The theft of 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of gold-bearing concentrate containing 7,000 ounces of gold occurred Tuesday at El Gallo 1 mine in western Sinaloa state, which is controlled by a powerful cartel of the same name.