Serbia backs out of controversial Rio Tinto lithium mine
After weeks of protests against lithium mining in Serbia, the government reverses its decision on the Rio Tinto lithium mine, complying with public demands.
Serbian authorities discarded plans on the building of a controversial lithium mine, the country's premier said Thursday. The decision comes in light of protests demanding the cancellation of the project set to be built by Rio Tinto due to the dangers it poses.
The plans by Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto were heavily demonstrated against, with Serbs highlighting the threats of the mines to nature, saying the whole project was an "attempt to poison nature," because of the industrial pollution it would have caused.
The government reversing its decision was certainly surprising to many, but it is likely to serve its interests in the upcoming parliamentary elections, as President Aleksandar Vucic's administration seeks to garner support from voters.
"We have fulfilled all the demands from the environmental protests and have put an end to Rio Tinto in the Republic of Serbia," said Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Thursday.
"Everything about the Jadar project is finished," she added, referring to a mine set to be built in western Serbia.
Europe seeks to expand its lithium mining
This comes just a week after Europe announced it was seeking to expand its lithium mining operations - despite stark warnings regarding the environmental repercussions of the operation.
Europe wants to transition to lithium to "go green" in light of the fight against climate change, but it is mainly dependent on external sources for the precious metals, key in the shift from fossil fuels.
Large-scale lithium deposits are found around the western Serbian town of Loznica, where Rio Tinto had acquired land and was waiting for the green light to proceed with its plans.
Lithium, cobalt, and nickel allow electricity to be stored and transported, making the resources essential in the production of electric batteries as car manufacturers attempt to move from the polluting fossil fuels, which have been a major contributor to the climate crisis ravaging the planet.
The Anglo-Australian company had first discovered the deposits in 2006, and it had intended to invest a whopping $2.4 billion in the project.
The project sparked accusations from those opposing it, which asserted that Vucic's government was paving the way for illegal land appropriations and neglecting environmental concerns as the world goes through devastating catastrophes caused by climate change.