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27 Jan 2023

Sasa Dragojlo, Balkan Insight

Serbia: Celebrity among environmental activists campaigning against lithium mine allegedly harmful to biodiversity & public health

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Bojana Novakovic: Stopping Rio Tinto in Serbia is ‘a Fight for Survival’, 27 January 2023

... Novakovic has become a main face of the “Mars sa Drine” [“Get off the Drina”] campaign, which opposes the so-called Jadar lithium mine. She claims Rio Tinto has a “horrible reputation” and does not want it in the country.

“It is not just a fight against the project, it is a fight for survival. The essence is to preserve what we have in ways that are healthy and not continue over-production and exploitation. This [project] is just packaged as healthy; it’s just marketing and it will not bring anything good to ordinary people,” she told BIRN...

Asked why she dislikes Rio Tinto so much, she says that “wherever they go, the[y] make problems for local people”, adding that she has worked with some Australian Aborigines who were victims of Rio Tinto misconduct in 2020.

“Also, to be clear, the lithium itself does not solve anything. Lithium will not create an electric car and for batteries you need cobalt … which comes from Congo, and we all know what is going on there,” she says.

“We do not want lithium mined in Serbia, we want those villages to remain green areas with fertile land, where food can be grown and where there are hundreds of species of animals, as there are right now,” Novakovic told BIRN...