Serbia may decide fate of Rio Tinto’s lithium project in referendum – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 7, 2021)

Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, may seek voter approval for Rio Tinto’s Jadar lithium project near the city of Loznica, in western Serbia, as community opposition grows.

Speaking on local TV on Monday, Vucic said the government fully supports the project, which could become Serbia’s second largest export earner once developed. He also said his administration won’t let it happen if it doesn’t get the people’s approval first.

Jadar has been facing local opposition due to heritage issues. Its footprint covers the area around Paulje, a Bronze Age archaeological site, as well as several classified natural monuments.

“This part of Jadra and Radjevina has been inhabited for more than 8,000 years and no one will drive us away,” activist Marija Alimpić told local media. “We give our vote to nature and there is no referendum, nor profit that is above nature,” she said.

Community group Ne Damo Jadar, which comprises 350 local property owners, says the planned underground lithium mine would force people out of the area and carries potential impacts to forests and water.

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