Rio Tinto forced to pay compensation for use of harmful chemicals

The mining company, Rio Tinto, has compensated residents of the Loznica area after groundwater spilt onto their fields during a soil survey conducted by the company.

According to BIRN, data showed that the water in question contained a high concentration of boron, sodium and other chemical elements.

In 2012, a resident of a village near Loznica signed a land lease with Rio Tinto so that the company could install piezometers, devices that measure the level and quality of groundwater in fields, on his property. Six years later, when two exploratory wells overflowed, clover stopped growing on that part of the field. The following year something similar happened.

BIRN claims to have had access to two contracts showing that Rio Tinto had undertaken to compensate for the damage caused to crops by the spills. The company says that, in the last 6 years, they have signed 15 contracts to compensate damages to 5 landowners, for a total of about 230,000 dinars.

According to BIRN, “a total of 125 piezometers have been installed to monitor groundwater levels and leaks have occurred on a small number of devices”.

BIRN obtained the results of laboratory tests on the quality of the leaked groundwater, samples of which were taken at the end of April 2021 by the Jaroslav Cerni Institute and the Sabac Institute of Public Health, thanks to the insistence of locals.

The results show that the concentration of boron, recorded by one of the piezometers, was 574.72 mg/l (milligrams per litre). The maximum permitted concentration of boron in drinking water would be 1 mg/l, while in rivers it can go as high as 2.5 mg/l.

“Plants wilt just at the sight of boron,” says Milojko Lazic, a professor in the Department of Hydrology at the Faculty of Mining and Geology. He adds that high concentrations of this chemical element in groundwater are the cause of clover drying out, and adds that “astronomically high amounts of boron” were found in mine waters”. In addition to boron, results have shown that the level of sodium was also higher than allowed, another element that has a detrimental effect on plants.

(Nova Ekonomija, 10.06.2021)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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