The Serbian government has withdrawn permits for a controversial lithium mine after months of fierce protests, international news agencies report. The British-Australian company Rio Tinto wanted to operate the largest lithium mine in Europe in the western Serbian Jadar Valley, but environmental groups and residents feared drinking water pollution and damage to the landscape and agricultural land. Lithium is an important raw material for the batteries of electric cars.
“All permits have been revoked,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said on Thursday. “This is the end of the Jadar project.” At the end of last year, thousands of people took to the streets and blocked roads in protest against the plans. According to Brnabić, “our people have been listened to and our job is to defend their interests.” Parliamentary elections will be held in Serbia at the beginning of April and the governing coalition has recently lost a lot of ground in the polls, partly because of the controversial mining project.
Also read: Serbian environmentalists fight for clean drinking water
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic also sided with the protests. Last week he was expelled from the Australian city of Melbourne for not having been vaccinated against the corona virus, where one of Rio Tinto’s two headquarters is located.
The Australian government said in a response to Reuters news agency that it regretted the decision to ban Rio Tinto. The lithium mine should have been operational by 2027 and Rio Tinto wanted to put more than two billion euros into the project. The company says it will study “the legal basis” of the Serbian government decision, while shareholders express the expectation that a compromise will be found after the April elections. The share of Rio Tinto lost more than 4 percent on the stock exchange in Sydney on Friday.
#Serbian #government #revokes #permits #controversial #lithium