Zorana Mihajlovic, Energy and Mining Minister said late on Wednesday that Serbia did not have any contract with Rio Tinto except a non-binding Memorandum on Understanding from 2017.
„(Rio Tinto) has no any right to lithium exploitation,“ Mihajlovic told Insajder TV channel in an interview.
She added there was a study on lithium reserves showing how much of that chemical element Serbia had.
Mihajlovic said that all the Anglo-Australian company had invested so far was its business risk and that Serbia would make no decision before the environmental studies were done.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ana Brnbaic also said that Serbia did not sign any binding agreement with Rio Tinto but that the state had obligations toward the company. She did not explain what those obligations were based on.
Environmentalist protests across the country forced the authorities to withdraw one and amend the other law, which the activists said were tailored to fit Rio Tinto.
President Aleksandar Vucic later said that Rio Tinto would not move out from Serbia, causing environmentalists’ outage. They announced new roadblocks after the New Year.