Rio Tinto’s mining licence has been revoked by the Serbian government after weeks of protests by environmental activists against a proposed lithium mine.
The Anglo-Australian mining company was to invest approximately $3.3 billion into the Jadar Lithium project but Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that after lengthy protests that the agreement is no longer.
“We have fulfilled all the requests of the environmental protests and put an end to Rio Tinto in the Republic of Serbia,” she said.
“Everything is finished, it’s over,”
“We are not afraid of Rio Tinto,”
“We are here for our people and country; they can do whatever they think they should do [and] this is the final decision of the government of the Republic of Serbia.”
Rio Tinto said of the decision that it was “Reviewing the legal basis of this decision and the implication for our activities and our people in Serbia”. While the Australian government told Reuters that “We note the strong economic benefits of the significant investment by Rio Tinto.”
The proposed mine was set to be in development near the town of Loznica in the western Jadar Valley with activists protesting that the mine would do irreversible damage to the landscape and affect water supplies. Lithium is a metal that’s used in a variety of ways including for use in electric vehicle batteries and medications, with lithium having been proven to treat certain illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
With the Jadar project no longer going to start production in 2027, that leaves Rio Tinto with only one other lithium project. In December 2021, the mining company announced that they had a successful bid for 100 per cent of the RinCon lithium project in Argentina which was a “large undeveloped lithium brine resource”.
People online weighed in on the topic with one user @PatStep90186964 saying, “I think we need clearer and harsher laws for companies that decide to damage and destroy, thinking they can walk away spotless. Global agreement could be easier to reach than we think if there are genuine people negotiating without hidden agendas”. With another user @ArminTa10015448 saying “Serbia just cut mining rights to Rio Tinto worth 5 billion to the Australian economy. Might be connected, might not” in regard to the deportation of tennis star Novak Djokovic.
Since the cancellation of mining licences by Serbia, Rio Tinto’s shares fell down by more than five per cent on the ASX