Rio Tinto’s Serbian subsidiary Rio Sava has filed nine lawsuits against the country’s government in connection with the abolishment of its Jadar project.
News of a legal dispute between Rio Tinto and the state of Serbia is a new twist regarding the company’s lithium mining and processing project. Serbia halted it in January 2022, but environmental activists and residents of the Jadar area believe that both Rio Tinto and Serbia’s authorities have not given up on the investment.
Information about the lawsuits emerged two weeks after a media report that Serbia and the European Commission signed a letter of intent in September to initiate a strategic partnership for batteries and critical raw materials including lithium.
The Nova news outlet learned that under the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court, there are four cases against the decision of the Government of Serbia to abolish the project, two suits against the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, and three against the Ministry of Finance.
Of note, Rio Tinto said on several occasions that it plans to sue Serbia.
With two lawsuits, Rio Tinto is disputing the government’s decision to annul the approval of environmental impact assessments, issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the court revealed.
The state Administrative Commission has rejected Rio Sava’s appeals, which resulted in the two remaining cases, the report reads.
Since the beginning of October, Rio Sava fired about 80% of its employees
Two lawsuits concern the Ministry of Agriculture’s inspection measures, according to the article. The cases that the Anglo-Australian mining giant launched against the Ministry of Finance are related to tax issues, it adds.
In addition, Nova.rs reported, without identifying its source, that Rio Sava fired 80% of its workers since the beginning of October.
The plan is to keep twenty employees only until the administrative procedure for the layoffs is completed and then to close the firm, which means Jadar project is finished, the website wrote.