Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany is interested in lithium from Serbia and that European union member countries would address the issue of the exploitation of the metal.
Angela Merkel was in Serbia for a one-day farewell visit as she is stepping down as German chancellor after holding the post for 16 years.
At a press conference after her meeting with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, she was asked whether Germany is interested in Serbian lithium and, if so, “how persistent it would be in the matter given the big interest expressed by the US and China.”
Merkel: If the whole world is interested, we are also interested
“If the whole world is interested, we are also interested and that is clear. We have a large number of investments in the automotive industry, including in Serbia, and we all know how important lithium is for future mobility and battery cells, so it was a topic in our discussion,” Chancellor Merkel said.
Merkel: EU member countries will address the lithium issue
In her view, Serbia has something really valuable, but there is concern whether exploitation would be conducted in line with environmental standards.
“I think the EU indeed has good sustainability standards, so it’s not just about German interests, but the matter will surely be addressed by EU members as climate neutrality is a really important issue in the EU,” she stressed.
Germany has lithium as well but its production won’t hurt nature
Of note, a pilot project that should enable large-scale production of lithium from geothermal water is being conducted in Germany. Unlike mining and processing, envisaged for Serbia, the method isn’t harmful to the environment.
The pilot plant near Bruchsal should start extracting lithium by the end of the year. The facility will be located within a geothermal power plant. Domestic energy giant EnBW and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), local news website SWR reported.
A similar project is expected in Cornwall, England, where the highest lithium concentration in geothermal water so far was registered.
Citizens, environmentalists, experts and people from the villages in Serbia that may disappear if Rio Tinto opens a mine are openly opposing the investment, and more than 130,000 citizens signed a petition against it. Several thousand people gathered at a protest against the mine last week in Belgrade.