Environment

Protests as City of Loznica in Serbia adopts spatial plan for Rio Tinto’s lithium project

City Loznica Serbia spatial plan Rio Tinto Jadar lithium

Don’t Let Belgrade Drown / Facebook

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July 29, 2021

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Published:

July 29, 2021

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Hundreds of people gathered in front of the City Assembly of Loznica in western Serbia to protest against the adoption of the spatial plan including a special purpose area for Rio Tinto’s lithium mining and processing project. The document was passed with 41 votes out of 59 members of the local parliament.

Activists and concerned citizens expressed outrage when, as expected, the spatial plan was passed in the City Assembly of Loznica. They gathered to call on the members of the local parliament to withdraw the changes to the document, saying it is illegal to adopt the special purpose area for the Jadar project.

Rio Tinto intends to mine and process jadarite, rare lithium and boron mineral, discovered in 2001 near the city in western Serbia. Environmentalists are accusing the company and the country’s government of procedural breaches and withholding information and are pointing to the possibility of disastrous chemical leaks.

Moreover, Rio Tinto made an investment decision, earmarking USD 2.4 billion for the mine and processing unit, before it even finished the feasibility and environmental impact studies.

Hundreds of people from all over the country demonstrated for several hours until the end of the assembly’s session

Police in riot gear escorted the members of the assembly out of the building. Hundreds of people from all over Serbia demonstrated for several hours since the morning. The local authority didn’t allow the media and activists who demanded to be present at the session to come inside.

The proposal was adopted with 41 out of 59 votes in favor. Nongovernmental organizations and informal local groups stressed the city’s spatial plan is higher in rank than the regulation for the special purpose area but that it became usual in Serbia to harmonize them in the opposite direction, negatively impacting the urban planning process.

Environmentalists don’t agree with authorities and Rio Tinto that the special purpose area document outranks the city’s spatial plan

Officials in Loznica argued the spatial plan for the special purpose area for jadarite, adopted by the Government of Serbia, outranks the document on the city level and that the assembly could only acknowledge it. Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Rio Sava Exploration made the same claim.

Mayor Vidoje Petrović said the government would protect the environment and that it wouldn’t allow unlawful activities.

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