Activists want Serbia’s Government to ban lithium exploration for good

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Source: N1

Marija Alimpic, an activist of the 'Let's Protect Jadar and Radjevina' association, told the Belgrade FoNet news agency on Friday that the withdrawal of the Spatial Plan of the Special Purpose Area for the Jadar Project was not enough to say that the project was finally over.

She said it was necessary to abolish the location conditions that the Rio Tinto company had and return the land into agricultural and forest instead of the construction area.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told a news conference late on Thursday her Government had terminated all deals with the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto mining company that wanted to mine lithium in western Serbia.

She told reporters that all the environmental demonstrators’ demands were met, and Mining and Energy Minister Zoran Mihajlovic said any new request would be political.

However, Alimpic insisted that it was necessary to delete lithium from the Spatial Plan of Serbia, introduced in 2016, „not only because of Jadar but also of all other locations where lithium exploration is being researched or planned.“ She added there were ten such locations across the country.

Earlier on Friday, other activists warned the job was not finished.

In the meantime, another environmentalist organisation, the ‘Go-Change’ initiative said that, after Thursday’s protest titled ‘Serbia is Not for Sale’ and Brnabic’s news conference, it submitted a letter asking for public guarantees that the people’s initiative, which they would launch, be put to the vote before the elections were called. The vote may be done suggested by the Government or one-third of the deputies.

The initiative said they would continue with protests until the final ban on lithium and boron exploration.

The ‘Ecological Uprising,’ organisation, however, said its main requests had been met and would stop the protests.

Alimpic also demanded an investigation into who abused power and „illegally approved the adoption of the Spatial Plan for the ‘Jadar Project,’ and who included lithium in the Spatial Plan of Serbia.“

Alimpic recalled that Jadar and Radjevina were home to over 150 plant and animal species protected by the laws of Serbia and numerous international conventions.

Since the Jadar Valley is a flooded area, she has warned, „it is quite clear that the ‘Jadar Project’ can never be realized, regardless of whether it is Rio Tinto or some other company.“

„We do not agree to the moratorium, nor do we ask for it, because it is, by its definition, a postponement of the problem,“ Alimpic said.

She added that the residents of Jadar and Radjevina had lived on their properties as „tenants for two years, meaning they have no right to plan for the future.“

„So, not a moratorium, but a permanent ban with the protection of the mentioned landscapes and respect for the existing laws, which, although bad, still exist and if respected, a mine could never be opened,“ Alimpic said.

In the meantime, Reuters news agency reported the fall in Rio Tinto’s shares after Belgrade decided to cancel all deals with the company.

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