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Debating the ‘Jadar’ project: Perspectives on Serbia’s lithium mining controversy

The debates surrounding lithium mining in Serbia have reignited, with opponents of the “Jadar” project raising concerns about its reactivation despite the government’s previous decision. Key figures involved in the project, including Marijanti Babić of “Rio Tinto,” Professor Aleksandar Jovović from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Ratko Ristić from the Faculty of Forestry, and environmental consultant Dušan Vasiljević, shared their perspectives on the project’s potential impacts and controversies.

The “Jadar” project revolves around jadarite, a unique mineral in Serbia containing highly sought-after boron and lithium, presenting a significant economic opportunity. However, fears persist regarding potential ecological damage from its exploitation.

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Marijanti Babić emphasized “Rio Tinto’s” long-standing presence in Serbia and refuted claims of misinformation regarding the project. She highlighted the company’s commitment to safety and emphasized the necessity of informed discussions based on factual studies.

Professor Jovović outlined the extensive research conducted for the project, including environmental impact studies and public consultations over eight years. He emphasized measures to mitigate potential impacts, such as noise reduction and emission control.

Professor Ristić expressed concerns about the project’s environmental impact, citing research indicating significant biodiversity risks and landscape changes. He raised questions about the handling of mining waste and highlighted community distrust stemming from perceived lack of transparency.

Vasiljević underscored the need to align private interests with public welfare, questioning the societal benefits of a mining-centric development model. He urged a broader examination of alternative economic potentials and raised concerns about “Rio Tinto’s” track record in other countries.

In summary, the “Jadar” project represents a complex intersection of economic development, environmental conservation and public interest, prompting a contentious debate about its merits and potential consequences.

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