Rio Tinto is slowing down works' further dynamics because they have not yet received a decision on the exploitation of lithium in western Serbia, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said on Tuesday and added the Government does not want to decide on that nor will it do anything else without consulting the local communities.
„At this moment, the „Jadar“ project is finished for me,“ Brnbic added.
Rio Tinto’s local branch said earlier on Tuesday that it had revised the dynamics of the ‘Jadar’ lithium mine projects in western Serbia.
A statement said that the issuing of mining permits was delayed, leading the company to revise the pace of implementation for the ‘Jadar Project.’
“Initial commercial production is expected to start in 2027 at the earliest (earlier plans were 2026) based on current assessments and if all relevant permits are secured,” it said.
Regarding the exploitation, Brnabic told a news conference on the occasion of the beginning of the „EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia“ project, the decision did not mean exploitation but was necessary to see what impact on the environment it could have.
She said she did not want to tackle the issue of Rio Tinto’s expectations but that she was there to „protect the wishes and interests of the citizens of Serbia.“
„I will talk to everyone I have to; I really don’t have a single problem,“ she said.
„When they finished the previous feasibility study in 2020, I was in (the main area for potential lithium mine in western Serbia) Loznica, holding a news conference. I didn’t get a single question about the environment, no negative comments about Rio Tinto. Now I hear (that), and we will adopt it,“ Brnabic said, adding, „we’ll see how it goes“.
Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic said it was „a great pity“ that Serbia did not consider doing an Environmental Impact Assessment Study.
The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Emanuele Giaofret, reiterated the EU stand that the ‘Jadar Project’ could be an opportunity for socio-economic development, but provided that it is implemented taking into account the highest standards of environmental protection.