Environment

Over 500,000 signatures against Rio Tinto’s proposed lithium mine in Serbia

rio tinto protest london AGM jadar lithium serbia signatures

Photo: Marš sa Drine initiative, and Earth Thrive

Published

April 7, 2023

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Published:

April 7, 2023

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Environmental activists from Arizona, Madagascar, Serbia and the United Kingdom protested in London against Rio Tinto’s Jadar project in Serbia during the company’s annual general meeting. They also submitted over half a million signatures gathered in Serbian and European petitions against the company’s plan to mine and process lithium in the Balkan country.

Environmental organizations have sent a clear message to Rio Tinto’s shareholders: the company’s insistence to carry on with the formally canceled project will only strengthen the opposition to it and the possibility of social unrest, carrying with it financial and political risk, the Marš sa Drine initiative and Earth Thrive said.

The protest was joined by the WeMove Europe and London Mining Network, which organized the arrival of activists from Arizona, Madagascar, and Serbia. A titanium mine is planned in Arizona, while in the island country Rio Tinto is operating a copper mine.

Of note, in 2023 Rio Tinto marks 150 years of operation.

Activists: Rio Tinto is not welcome in Serbia

Rio Tinto is not welcome in Serbia, activists said during the protest, which is part of a campaign called Rio Tinto: Against People, Climate and Nature and the International Day of Action against Rio Tinto.

The environmentalists also took 500,000 signatures to the door of Rio Tinto’s headquarters in London.

Petković: We will fight against you until we drive you out of Serbia

The representative of Serbian activists in London, Nebojša Petrović, a resident of the affected village of Gornje Nedeljice in the country’s west and a member of the Ne damo Jadar association, took the opportunity to ask the company’s officials why it hasn’t left Serbia after the spatial plan for a lithium mine and processing plant was annulled, and why it keeps buying land from private owners.

“The Ne damo Jadar association will fight Rio Tinto together with all other environmental organizations until it drives you out of Serbia,” Petković said.

He later explained he didn’t get any straightforward answer and that he also asked why the company insists on the project after the Serbian experts said that its implementation is the path to an ecological disaster.

They just said it was not true, Petković added.

Lujić: The mine will cause ecocide

Zoe Lujić, founder of Earth Thrive, which is a member of the London Mining Network, asked the Rio Tinto management about the destruction of nature and ecocide that she claims the mine would cause, arguing that the planned location is a habitat for 140 protected species, of which more than 60 are protected under the Bern Convention.

Dominic Burton, Rio Tinto chair, replied that an underground mine would be opened in Serbia and claimed there would be no ecocide, she said.

Jakob Stausholm, CEO of Rio Tinto, said the highest standards would be applied.

Rio Tinto understands the concerns of the citizens, so they will be the ones to decide the fate of the mine, and the company will accept that, Stausholm stressed.

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