Representatives of environmental associations from the Loznica region, “Let’s Protect Jadar and Rađevina” and “I Won’t Give Jadar,” stated today that they will not allow the government and the company Rio Tinto to open a lithium mine near Loznica. They emphasized that Europe can exploit this mineral within its territory.
“The authorities and institutions of Serbia have lost trust and cannot regain it, regardless of possible additional arguments about the benefits of exploiting this ‘critical’ metal in the vicinity of Loznica,” representatives of these associations told Beta today, in response to the statement by former Serbian Foreign Minister Goran Svilanović for Demostat that Serbian lithium is among the top three important topics in relations between the Western Balkans and the EU.
Marija Alimpić from the Association “Let’s Protect Jadar and Rađevina” emphasized that neither the local population nor the citizens of Serbia want lithium mines on their territory.
“Here, in the territory of the municipality of Loznica, there will be no lithium mine. We continue to fight against the Rio Tinto company, which planned to open that mine in our region. We have filed a misdemeanor report because Rio Tinto advertised in local Serbian media, even though that project was canceled. Legal proceedings are underway, and the media have stopped advertising that company,” said Alimpić.
The Serbian government revoked the Spatial Plan of Special Purpose in the Loznica area for the project of exploitation and processing of the mineral jadarite “Jadar” in January 2022, as well as the decision to form a Working Group for the implementation of the Rio Tinto company’s project, effectively nullifying individual acts related to the opening of lithium mines.
Alimpić mentioned that it is incorrect that Rio Tinto filed six lawsuits against the Serbian state. “Rio Tinto appealed the revocation of several permits it had obtained from the Serbian authorities to open the mine, and a legal process is underway, with two appeals dismissed in June of last year,” said Alimpić.
According to Zlatko Kokanović, a representative of the “I Won’t Give Jadar” association, the Serbian government has lost the trust of the people when Rio Tinto attempted to open the lithium mine, and it cannot regain it at any cost.
“The government, and when I say the government, I mean the judiciary as well, works in the interest of investors who provide various donations to influence the enactment of laws in their favor,” said Kokanović.
He also mentioned that the opening of the mine would cause enormous damage to the environment, evident from the beginning of the exploration for the mine, as substances leaking from the drill holes destroyed all vegetation in the area.
“Wherever Rio Tinto has opened a mine, it has left devastation. If Europe needs lithium and wants to be independent of Russia and China, let them mine it in Germany, where there is more than in Serbia, or let them search for it in Finland, France, Austria,” said Kokanović.