Serbia is proposing to hold further discussions with Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto about its Jadar lithium-borate mine project in the west of the country, Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said.
“We will see whether we can come to an agreement (with Rio Tinto) but I think it is important for us to listen to what they have to say and to have open discussions with the Serbian public,” Vucic said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, as seen in a video published on his YouTube channel on Wednesday.
“Rio Tinto needs to offer the cleanest solutions with which the Serbian people will be satisfied, meeting the highest global standards for nature and employees who will work there,” Vucic added.
Vucic said that Serbia is facing the challenge of whether Rio Tinto will file a lawsuit against it, and he requested the company not to take measures to protect their interests.
In January 2022, Serbia’s government revoked all Rio Tinto’s licences for the 2.2 billion euro Jadar lithium-borate underground mine project following a wave of protests across the country over the environmental impact of the works.
The Jadar deposit, discovered by Rio Tinto geologists in 2004 near Loznica, would be capable of delivering approximately 55,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate, as well as 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulfate as by-products per year. Rio Tinto planned to complete the construction of an underground mine at the Jadar lithium borate project site in 2026 which would help make the company a top 10 lithium producer.
A vital component for clean technologies such as electric vehicles and battery storage, lithium will play an essential role in the transition to a low carbon economy, Rio Tinto has said.
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