What did Rio Tinto spend EUR 500mn in Serbia on?

How is it possible that the Rio Tinto Company is spending more money than before since the Jadar lithium project was suspended?

That question was asked by the activists of the Marš sa Drine movement who analyzed the financial reports of Rio Tinto’s daughter company Rio Sava. Has that project really been closed or will the future fate of lithium mining be determined by the new government?

Back in January 2022, it seemed that the Serbian government sided against Rio Tinto and lithium mining in Serbia, with the then PM Ana Brnabić quoted as saying:” As far as the Jadar project and Rio Tinto are concerned, everything is over!” It’s over!”

Combing through publicly available documents on the financial operations of Rio Sava, the Serbian subsidiary of Rio Tinto, the lawyers working for the Marš sa Drine Movement found out that the company has spent half a billion euros since its inception in Serbia to date.

“So, during the period when the company stopped its projects in Serbia, when all permits were lost and when it is involved in nine court cases before the Administrative Court of Serbia, it has spent a total of 300 million euros on intangible services,” says lawyer Sreten Đorđević.

“The money we are talking about is the money that Rio Sava spends. It spent 260,000 euros a day on consultations alone”, says Bojana Novaković, an activist from the Marš sa Drine Movement.

They also ask why is Rio Sava paying six billion dinars for a feasibility study, obviously a new one, as they already submitted one in 2021?

Environmental activists don’t believe this mining company or the Serbian government. “Probably neither of them are telling the truth and it is obvious that the project has picked up pace to unimaginable proportions,” says lawyer Sreten Đorđević.

“As far as the project is concerned, nothing has changed since the day the project was stopped,” said Mining Minister Dubravka Đedović Handanović, while Rio Tinto adds:” Insinuations and arbitrary misinterpretations of parts of the regular financial report submitted by Rio Sava are a clear attempt to manipulate publicly available data in order to create a negative image of the company in the public. These are standard reports published by all companies, in accordance with legal regulations”.

(N1, 04.04.2024)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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