Serbia suspends plans for Rio Tinto’s lithium mine

Serbia suspends plans for Rio Tinto’s lithium mine
Aleksandar Vucic, president of Serbia / Presidency of Serbia
By Eldar Dizdarevic in Sarajevo December 17, 2021

The Assembly of the City of Loznica on December 16 made a decision to invalidate the decision on the adoption of the spatial plan of the City of Loznica from July 29, 2021, which referred to the Rio Tinto lithium mine.

Rio Tinto is trying to develop the giant Jadar lithium project in Serbia that it says will enable it to become Europe’s biggest supplier of lithium for at least 15 years. The metal is in growing demand as it is used in electric vehicles and other applications. 

The vote came days after Serbia's parliament suspended two key laws that ecologists said would allow the mining company to start the project. For three consecutive weekends, thousands of protesters in Belgrade and Serbia blocked main roads and bridges to oppose Rio Tinto's plans.

The City of Loznica has now decided to suspend the spatial plan that permitted the excavation of lithium.

The decision was made without a debate on that topic, despite complaints from some councillors about the lack of discussion, portal 021 reported.

The president of the Assembly of the Municipality of Loznica, Milena Manojlovic Knezevic, said that 46 out of 54 councillors present voted in favour. No one was against, the others abstained.

Explaining the withdrawal of the decision on the spatial plan of Loznica, Knezevic pointed out that the care for the citizens is in the first place, “as the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic unequivocally said during his visit to Gornji Nedeljice”.

Now that the lithium mine plans are on hold, Vucic has said that Serbia “will talk to Rio Tinto in a different way”.