Prime Minister Vučević: Serbia should discuss all development projects, including lithium

prime minister serbia vucevic lithium rio tinto serbia

Photo: Miloš Vučević/Twitter


June 12, 2024



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June 12, 2024



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Serbia’s new prime minister, Miloš Vučević, has commented on lithium mining in the country for the first time since taking office. Serbia should discuss all development projects, including lithium, he said, and then hear what experts have to say, and protect, above all, people and the environment.

In January 2022, Serbia halted Rio Tinto’s project to build a lithium mine and a processing plant in the Jadar valley. Authorities blocked the Anglo-Australian mining giant’s activities following protests across the country, the largest in two decades. However, top officials have repeatedly said that this was a mistake.

Until now the new government, led by Prime Minister Miloš Vučević, has been silent on the issue. During an appearance on RTS TV, Vučević said he supported all development opportunities in Serbia, including mining.

According to him, the government has not yet discussed the continuation of Rio Tinto’s project, but the issue will be discussed in the context of utilizing Serbia’s natural resources.

Vučević: If experts say no, then it is no

Vučević added that he “believes in sustainable development as a winning formula.” He also pointed out that no project, including lithium mining, will go ahead without clear indication that it is possible to use natural resources and at the same time protect the environment and, above all, people.

“I leave room for discussion and, above all, I am waiting to hear what experts have to say – if they say no, then it is no,” he stressed. Asked which option he is closer to, he replied that he is always in favor of Serbia’s development, utilizing all available potentials.

While the Government of Serbia may have suspended the lithium mining project, Rio Tinto has not.

Marijanti Babić, Rio Tinto’s Country Head for Serbia, said during a public debate between supporters and opponents of the project, held in April this year, that the company ceased all exploratory work after the government halted the project. However, it continued to operate due to prior obligations to complete internal feasibility studies, she said.

After halting the lithium mining project, the government signed a memorandum on building a battery factory with Rio Tinto’s partner company InoBat. After that, a letter of intent was signed with the European Union in the field of critical raw materials, including lithium.

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