Rio Tinto–backed firm InoBat plans to build battery gigafactory in Serbia

Rio Tinto InoBat battery gigafactory Serbia

Photo: iStock


November 15, 2022






November 15, 2022





InoBat from Slovakia signed preliminary agreements with the Government of Serbia on the construction of a gigafactory that would manufacture and recycle batteries. The firm counts Rio Tinto among its investors, so activists from the SEOS environmentalist group said they would relaunch protest rallies that started more than two years ago against the mining giant’s lithium project in the country.

InoBat Auto, based in Bratislava, said it has signed protocols and declarations of intent with the Government of Serbia for the construction of a gigafactory for the manufacturing and recycling of battery cells for electric vehicles and stationary energy storage. The firm pointed out it is one of European countries that it is considering for the project.

“If finalized, the relevant Serbian authorities will work with InoBat to secure all of the permits and licenses required for the sustainable construction and operation of the gigafactory. The Serbian government will also provide financial and material support to ensure the successful development of the facility. InoBat has already established its Serbian subsidiary, InoBat Auto Beograd,” the announcement adds.

Serbia reportedly commits to EUR 419 million in state aid

The startup said that Serbia offered financial and material support. According to Reuters, the government has agreed to provide funding of up to a stunning EUR 419 million, including grants and tax incentives. Strangely enough, the government in Belgrade didn’t publish any information about the potential deal.

The Government of Serbia offered no details on the agreements announced by InoBat

Nevertheless, InoBat quoted Prime Minister Ana Brnabić as saying that the preliminary agreement “is an important milestone” that would position Serbia “as a great contributor to sustainable and green future and among leading European players” in the strategic sector.

“We will continue to work resolutely on further development in order to create an [sic!] even better conditions for the well-being of both our citizens and everyone who lives and does business in Serbia,” she stated, according to the Slovakian company.

Deal brings Rio Tinto controversy back into spotlight

Rio Tinto, one of the investors in InoBat, could become a sticking point regarding the plans for a battery plant. Namely, the Anglo-Australian mining giant has caused outrage in Serbia with environmental and other controversies regarding its lithium mining and processing project in the Jadar area near Loznica in the country’s west.

Faced with mass protests and other forms of public pressure, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić was the one who declared in January that the government is halting the project and canceling all permits. “Rio Tinto absolutely didn’t provide enough information to the people in Jadar, Rađevina, in local places and local villages. It also didn’t provide enough information to the Government of the Republic of Serbia,” she claimed at the time.

In January, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said Rio Tinto didn’t provide enough information on its lithium project, declaring all the permits void

The move was made just ahead of the start of the election campaign. President Aleksandar Vučić then won a second term in office, his Serbian Progressive Party kept the front seat in the governing coalition and Ana Brnabić remained prime minister. Regardless of the formal cancellation, Rio Tinto continued with its activities.

The mining company signed a memorandum of understanding last year with InoBat on the establishment of an electric vehicle battery value chain in Serbia. It also expressed support for the construction of a battery gigafactory in Serbia.

Protest campaign to be restarted

Reacting to InoBat’s announcement, activists from the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS) said they would resist the new project with protest rallies and pointed to environmental risk from battery recycling.

The Slovakian firm said the International Finance Corporation (IFC) supports the initiative for a gigafactory project in Central and Eastern Europe. InoBat has earlier received grants from the European Union through the European Battery Innovation project.

ElevenEs is also planning to build a battery plant in Serbia. The domestic firm has revealed it would import the required lithium materials.

Comments (0)

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Enter Your Comment
Please wait... Please fill in the required fields. There seems to be an error, please refresh the page and try again. Your comment has been sent.

Related Articles

Premier Energy Motor Oil joint venture hybrid power plants Romania

Premier Energy, Motor Oil launch joint venture for hybrid power plants in Romania

24 June 2024 - Premier Energy established a firm in Romania with Greece-based Motor Oil that bought two PV projects of 86 MW in total, with storage

Turkish firm mature PV 214 MW Romania Econergy

Turkish firm buys mature PV project of 214 MW in Romania from Econergy

21 June 2024 - Entek Elektrik's subsidiary Enspire Enerji took over a 214 MW solar power project in Romania from Israel-based Econergy


Cascading power grid failure causes blackout in BiH, Montenegro, Albania, Dalmatia

21 June 2024 - Overloads in key electricity interconnections led to unprecedented outages in BiH and Montenegro today while the power was out in much of Croatia and Albania as well

Renalfa largest battery facility Bulgaria into operation

Renalfa IPP puts largest battery facility in Bulgaria into operation

21 June 2024 - Renalfa IPP has started the commercial operation of its first utility-scale battery energy storage system