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15 Feb 2022

Ivana Sekularac, Reuters

Serbia: Environmental activist stage protest demanding Rio Tinto's lithium licences stay revoked

"Green activists stage tent protest to halt lithium exploration in Serbia", 11 February 2022

Protesters have pitched tents in front of Serbia's presidency building demanding a halt to lithium exploration on environmental grounds, fearing a project that has its licence revoked will be resurrected after April's election...

Thousands of people blocked roads last year to demonstrate against the government's backing of Rio Tinto's (RIO.L), (RIO.AX) $2.4 billion Jadar project, forcing the local municipality to scrap a plan to allocate land for the facility. In January, Serbia revoked the licences.

Rio Tinto has said it is extremely concerned by Serbia's decision and is reviewing the legal basis for it. It has said it has always operated in compliance with Serbian laws...

The environmental groups say the new mine would have polluted land and water in the area. ...villagers have pitched around a dozen tents to keep up the pressure on lawmakers.

"If all mining projects for which the government had issued exploration licences go through, Serbia will cease to exist, it will become a colony of big, foreign companies," he said. "We do not deserve to be ecological refugees."

Marijana Petkovic, a teacher from Gornje Nedeljice who has been at the protests, fears more homes and land may be sold after the election as Rio Tinto has already bought 40 houses...

Neither Rio Tinto's Serbia branch nor the government replied to requests for comment about the protest or any further property sales...