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Setback for Rio Tinto: Serbia scraps plans for lithium mining in Jadar Valley

After protests by environmentalists, the Serbian government has withdrawn the basis for lithium mining in western Serbia planned by the British-Australian company Rio Tinto. Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s cabinet revoked the spatial plan for the Loznica region at its last meeting on Thursday. Environmentalists spoke on Friday of a stage victory, but at the same time suspected a tactical concession a few months before the presidential and parliamentary elections on April 3rd.

“The story of Rio Tinto in Serbia is closed,” said Brnabic after the government meeting. The British-Australian group wants to mine around 2.3 million tons of lithium carbonate in the western Serbian Jadar Valley from 2027. Lithium is an important component of batteries such as those installed in electric cars. The mining company has been pushing the project in Serbia for years and has concluded corresponding agreements with various governments in Belgrade.

topic off the table

The reversal of the current cabinet came after weeks of protests and road blockades by environmentalists who see the natural landscapes of the Jadar Valley threatened by mining.

The environmentalists pointed out that the revocation of the regional development plan did not mean that lithium mining in Serbia would end in principle. The opposition politician Nebojsa Zelenovic, who comes from the Jadar region, said on Friday to the news portal “danas.rs”: “The withdrawal of Rio Tinto can only be guaranteed by a legal ban on lithium mining.” (dpa/mer)

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