Serbia suspends lithium mine plans after protests

Dec 15, 2021, 2:25 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 8:58 am
Environmental protesters stand on the highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, on Dec. 11, 202...

Environmental protesters stand on the highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, on Dec. 11, 2021. Serbia has suspended a plan that would allow mining giant Rio Tinto launch a lithium mine in the west of the country after protests by environmentalists which have shaken the country’s populist leadership. A local council of the town of Loznica in western Serbia, where the excavations were to start in the near future, voted on Thursday to suspend a regional development plan. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Local authorities in western Serbia on Thursday suspended a plan that would allow mining giant Rio Tinto to operate a lithium mine, following protests by environmentalists that shook the country’s populist leadership.

The mining had been expected to start in the near future, but a town council in Loznica voted to suspend a regional development plan that permitted the excavation of lithium. The vote followed the suspension last week of two key laws in Serbia’s parliament that ecologists said would help the multinational mining company start the project.

For three consecutive weekends, thousands of protesters in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia blocked main roads and bridges to oppose Rio Tinto’s plan to launch a $2.4 billion mining operation in Serbia. The protests were the biggest challenge yet to the increasingly autocratic rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

“Whether there will be a mine depends on people (in western Serbia) and the study on environmental impact assessment,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said. “These are the two conditions that the president (Vucic) stated earlier.”

Rio Tinto said in a statement Thursday that it worked in accordance with laws and the highest professional standards throughout its 10-year presence in Serbia in order to launch “the largest mining investment in this part of the world.”

“We understand the interest of citizens in everything that happens in connection with the project, and we will continue to provide information on all aspects of the project for which we are responsible and in which we participate,” the statement said, according to independent Beta news agency.

Although Rio Tinto said it would adhere to all the latest environmental protection standards, organizers of the weekend protests said the lithium excavation could inflict lasting ecological damage to rivers and farmland in the region.

Now that the lithium mine plans are on hold, Vucic said earlier this week that from now on “we will have to speak in a different way to Rio Tinto and others.”

Throughout its almost 150-year history, the company has faced accusations of corruption, environmental degradation and human rights abuses at its excavation sites.

Lithium, which is used in batteries for electric cars, is considered one of the most sought-after metals of the future as the world shifts to more renewable energy sources.

As Serbia faces an electricity shortage, Vucic has ignored European Union pleas for countries to reduce CO2 emissions and pledged to continue and even expand coal mining for power plants.

Environmentalists are upset at the Serbian government’s lack of response to rising pollution in the country.

____

Follow all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Sri-lankan former captives Nilojan Vasanthakumar, 20, Uthayakamar Mary Edid Prema, 50, Sharujan Gia...
Associated Press

Sri Lankans describe abuse as Russian captives in Ukraine

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — A group of Sri Lankans held captive by Russian forces in an agricultural factory in eastern Ukraine said Saturday that they were beaten and abused for months before escaping on foot as the Russians withdrew from the Kharkiv region this month. Recounting their ordeal to reporters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Eastern Michigan University faculty ratify new contract

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Faculty members at Eastern Michigan University have voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the school. The Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Friday that 96% of its members voted in favor of the deal which would include pay raises and more favorable […]
1 day ago
FILE - The NASA moon rocket stands on Pad 39B before a launch attempt for the Artemis 1 mission to ...
Associated Press

NASA delays moon rocket launch due to potential hurricane

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is skipping next week’s launch attempt of its new moon rocket because of a tropical storm that’s expected to become a major hurricane. It’s the third delay in the past month for the lunar-orbiting test flight featuring mannequins but no astronauts, a follow-up to NASA’s Apollo moon-landing program of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Names of victims in suburban Chicago shooting released

OAK FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The names of three people found shot outside a suburban Chicago home and the man believed to have killed them before fatally shooting himself have been released. They were identified Friday by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as Carlos Gomez, 44; Lupe Gomez, 43; Briana Rodriguez, 22; and Emilio […]
1 day ago
FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris displays a map showing abortion access by state as she speaks d...
Associated Press

Abortion is a matter of ‘freedom’ for Biden and Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) — The way President Joe Biden sees it, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade was not just about whether a woman has a right to obtain an abortion. “It’s about freedom,” Biden said at a private fundraiser in New York this past week. Vice President Kamala Harris takes an even bolder approach when […]
1 day ago
Survivor Zhu Pingfan, 41, from Hunan province, China, recuperates in a hospital bed, Saturday, Sept...
Associated Press

Chinese survivors had no food, water on sinking boat

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (AP) — Chinese survivors from a boat that sank near a Cambodian island, killing three people and leaving eight missing, said they embarked on what they believed would be a short-term fishing job and ended up without food and water aboard the vessel and their belongings taken away. Cambodian authorities said Friday they […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Serbia suspends lithium mine plans after protests