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Serbia pulls plug at Rio Tinto’s lithium mine

The Serbian government on Thursday revoked the license of Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto to search and dig up the lithium after a series of protests over the past few months, ending a Balkan project that it hoped would help boost its weakened economy.

The project, which could cost $ 2.4bn manufactured by Rio, would make the company, as well as the country, one of the world’s largest metal manufacturers, which is one of the most important batteries manufacturers in the world.

But the Belgrade government, which faces a run-off election on April 3, is adamant in its refusal to spend money on environmental issues. They had said they would hold a referendum on the issue after polling day.

“All the choices [linked to the lithium project] and all licenses have been revoked, “Ana Brnabic, the prime minister, told Belgrade.

The decision came as a shock to Brnabic after he said the election would not come until after the election. Rio announced a one-year delay to the project but stood by the plans.

Mining repaired, in the valley of Jared, Serbia, was considered a major threat to the livelihoods of the area and has caused a great deal of controversy over the pollution of the country, which is one of the most dangerous in Europe.

“As for the Jadar project, this is the end of it,” Brnabic said. Rio Tinto did not provide enough information to the community and the government [about the impact of the project]. ”

Environmentalists praised the decision as a victory but said it would work hard to prevent any use of the lithium and other minerals in the country for the next 20 years.

“One more way! We are close. . . Let’s give Rio Tinto and his terrorists a ticket to Australia tonight, “Savo Manojlovic, leader of the Kreni Promeni (Move, change!) Protest movement wrote on Twitter and Facebook.” Serbia is not for sale! “

Removal of existing project permits comes amid tensions between Serbia and Australia, where Rio makes a lot of money and has a stock market schedule, at the very least. chasing tennis players Novak Djokovic.

However, someone close to Aleksandar Vucic, the President of Serbia, said Rio’s view did not agree with Djokovic’s case. Vucic criticized Australian officials for “harassing” Djokovic and called the court’s decision to expel the world’s first man “childish”.

Earlier this week, Rio pushed back the start of production from Jadar by one year to 2027 due to the slow progress in obtaining the necessary permits to complete the necessary environmental assessments.

Lithium is the most important material used in batteries for mobile phones and electric vehicles, and demand is expected to rise in the next decade. Prices have risen sharply in recent months due to high demand from China, in particular.

Jadar would be one of the largest lithium mines in the world if the project were to continue.

Rio has options for expanding in lithium. The company last month agreed to pay $ 825m for the Salar del Rincón lithium project in the state of Salta, Argentina, earning its first major in a decade.

However, if he is forced to leave Jadar, it would be difficult for Jakob Stausholm, the director of the agency, who has indicated that he wants to increase the number of electrical wires. The company currently makes a lot of money from steel, a metal-based product.

Rio Thursday evening said he was “deeply concerned” by Brnabic’s remarks. It added: “Throughout our Jadar project we have been working in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Serbia. Rio Tinto is also examining the legal implications of this decision and the consequences for our work and for the people of Serbia. ”

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