Lithium is a 21st-century mineral, and Serbia could have an enormous benefit, but the country's primary condition is environmental protection, Zorana Mihajlovic, Deputy Prime Minister, has told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
She added the energy transition and increased energy efficiency, safety and healthier environment were of the most significant importance.
The value of the mineral raw material worth is 200 billion euros. Still, significant investments are needed, Mihajlovic says and adds that it has to be „a complete process from lithium mining to the battery production facility and the electric vehicles factory.“
„The state wants everyone to be informed about everything, but precisely and truthfully,“ she said.
„Many use the fact that we are in the election year for political purposes and spread fear and deceive the public by saying that (Macva, in the northwest of Central Serbia, where lithium is supposed to be mined) will be devastated, that people will leave the area, that the rivers will be polluted… Those are untruths serving for promoting (the election) candidates,“ Mihajlovic said about the Rio Tinto project.
She added that the referendum on the issue suggested by President Alekndadar Vucic was the most democratic way of solving the issue.
„The state will do what people say,“ Mihajlovic told Reuters.
The environmentalists and the opposition from all over the country bitterly protest over the Rio Tinto plan to mine lithium, saying it will have devastating effects on the environment and people who, according to them, have already started moving away from the area.
Experts worldwide wonder whether lithium will be replaced as the main battery component.