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Environmental activists, citizens to intensify protests against lithium mining in Serbia

Environmental activists citizens intensify protests lithium mining Serbia

Photo: mars_sa_drine, ofanzivan / Instagram

Published

June 29, 2024

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Published:

June 29, 2024

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The movement against Rio Tinto’s project for mining and processing jadarite near Loznica is demanding from the Government of Serbia to ban the exploration and mining of lithium and boron. Otherwise, activists said they would radicalize the resistance, starting with railway blockades.

Protesters from Jadar and Loznica in western Serbia and other cities and towns in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as from areas with mines or mining projects underway, have gathered to react to the renewal of the campaign to mine and process lithium. The event was initiated by the local group Ne damo Jadar together with Marš sa Drine, Suvoborska greda, Zaštitimo Dobrinju i okolinu and the rest of the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS).

Marijana Petković from the Gornje Nedeljice village, the site of Rio Tinto’s project, recalled that activists found proof the local authority has allowed the toxic exploration drilling fluid to be taken to the city landfill. The Government of Serbia will on July 1 receive a written demand to adopt a law banning exploration and and exploitation of lithium and boron in the entire country, the representative of Ne damo Jadar announced.

The parliament ignored a compulsory petition to discuss banning lithium and boron exploration and mining in the entire Serbia

If the demand isn’t met within 40 days, the movement will launch blockades on the 41st day, first on railroads and on other key points, Petković stressed.

Of note, the opponents of the Jadar project already submitted a petition in 2022 with over 38,000 signatures, in accordance with the Law on the Referendum and the People’s Initiative, to ban the exploration and mining of lithium and boron in the country. It obligated the National Assembly of Serbia to discuss the matter but it ignored the document.

Vukosavić: There is danger that wastewater from mine will contaminate groundwater in the Mačva area

The organizers estimated that three thousand people attended the gathering in the centre of Loznica.

Giving up on the exploitation of the jadarite mineral is the only way to prevent negative consequences for the flora and fauna and the habitats and ecosystems in the Jadar Valley, said Professor Ljiljana Tomović from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Belgrade.

“Biologists and ecologists didn’t change their opinion. We say again: life and the mine can’t coexist. Choose, life or the mine,” she pointed out and concluded that the people haven’t changed their opinion either.

The Jadar valley needs to be protected as a special area, the professor asserted.

“Jadar mustn’t fall,” said academician and Professor Slobodan Vukosavić from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade. He added that some forty other mines are planned in Serbia.

The professor warned of the risk that wastewater from the mine contaminates groundwater in the Mačva area north of Jadar and Loznica.

“We will be left without water. We live in a time of climate change. Who caused it, it doesn’t even matter. Climate change is here. We will face not one dry year in ten years but five dry years. We will have three, four summer months without any rain. The rain will fall, like you could see yesterday, in cloudbursts. We will have torrents. The ground won’t be able to soak up all that water. Serbia is a dry country. Water is necessary for us. Wars will be fought over water, not over lithium,” Vukosavić stated.

Activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina opposing lithium mining plans join protest in Loznica

There is no greater ideal than to fight for Gornje Nedeljice, Loznica, the Drina and Sava rivers, the areas of Semberia and Mačva, Serbia, Bosnia and the entire region, said Adi Selman from the Karton revolucija activist duo from Tuzla in neighboring BiH. In Lopare, near their city, a lithium mining project is underway, too.

Farmer Dragan Simović from Srednja Dobrinja, another village in western Serbia where lithium deposits were discovered, highlighted the plight of the population of Bor and Majdanpek in the country’s east caused by mining. He also said the protests would be intensified and urged the government to impose a ban.

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