The 'Go–Change' Initiative said on Wednesday that a 20-year moratorium on lithium and boron mining in Serbia was not enough and that the environmentalist organisations and people from the potential mining excavation areas wanted a permanent ban across the country.
„Joint protests are agreed. They will be radicalised until the Parliament is dissolved (and April elections called). We demand that the last joint request is adopted – a permanent ban on both exploration and exploitation of boron and lithium in the whole of Serbia,“ the ‘Go–Change’ statement said, after a meeting with members of Serbia’s Association of Environmentalist Organisations (SEOS).
It added that the 20-year moratorium caused concern and insecurity, that people would move from the potential mining area and that other investors would avoid those places.
Serbia’s Government said it annulled all contacts with the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto mining company, but local residents in western Serbia remained sceptical. President Aleksandar Vucic suggested a year-long moratorium on further activities, but the environmentalist saw that as gapping the bridge ahead of the elections on April 3. They first requested a 20-year moratorium, but now insisted on a permanent ban.
The protests’ organisers’ said they would detail the radicalisation plan at the joint rally outside the Presidency building in Belgrade on Thursday.
„We ask the authorities to respect the arguments of leading Serbia’s scientists, who point out that the excavation of boron and lithium is environmentally unsustainable, as well as to obey the people’s will. If the Government drove Rio Tinto out of Serbia, the same laws and treatment should apply to other companies across the country,“ the statement added.
Vucic said that if Rio Tinto was expelled from Serbia, the country would have to be a billion euros in damages to the company. However, that ‘threat’ has not been repeated after the Government has said that no mandatory deal had ever been signed.
Rio Tinto announced it would look into the legal grounds for the Government’s decision and its implications on the company’s activities and staff in Serbia.