The Serbian government has dropped its plans to build a massive lithium mine following weeks of public protest over the $2 billion project’s environmental impact.
The Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto had been tapped to develop the mine in western Serbia in an effort to attract foreign investment and boost economic growth. The lithium mine, which was slated to be one of the world’s largest, was seen as a way to capitalize on rising global demand for the element, which is widely used in the batteries that power electronics and electric vehicles.
“Serbia has fulfilled all demands from the environmental protests and has put an end to Rio Tinto in the Republic of Serbia,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced during a televised address on January 20.
The controversial project led to a series of angry protests in recent weeks, including the blockage of a major highway in the capital, Belgrade, on January 15. Environmental groups had argued that the mine would be devastating to agricultural land and water supplies.
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