Rio Tinto releases draft environmental impact assessments for Jadar Project


Photo: Zlatko Dikosavić/Facebook


June 13, 2024



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June 13, 2024



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Rio Tinto has said it has voluntarily released preliminary drafts of environmental impact assessment studies for its lithium mining project Jadar in Serbia to allow the public to assess the potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures.

The preliminary drafts of the Jadar Project Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies are based on research conducted by more than 100 local and international independent experts, including 40 university professors from more than 10 faculties, the Anglo-Australian miner said in a statement.

The scientific research, claims Rio Tinto, shows that the Jadar Project can be developed safely while adhering to the highest domestic and international environmental protection standards.

The Jadar Project, which involves opening a jadarite mine and an ore processing plant to obtain lithium, was halted by the Government of Serbia in January 2022. The decision came after months of protests and road blockades across the country, prompted by fears the project could cause great damage to Serbia.

Citizens had also submitted a petition, backed by more than 38,000 signatures, to ban lithium and boron exploration and mining in Serbia, but the authorities did not accept it.

Rio Tinto: Any work is prohibited without formal EIA approval

On the other hand, Serbia’s top officials have repeatedly said that stopping the project was a mistake. A few days ago, the new Prime Minister Miloš Vučević also commented on the matter.

The publication of the studies could be a good opportunity for opponents and proponents of the project to directly confront views, which has happened before, although rarely.

Rio Tinto says that the draft assessments comprise of three distinct, interrelated and interdependent EIAs which cover the underground mine, a surface processing plant, and an industrial waste landfill.

The company stresses that mining projects, similar to road construction, power plant and infrastructure projects, are prohibited to start any works until there is formal EIA approval by responsible government institutions. This requires public consultation and reviews by independent experts, Rio Tinto added in the statement.

Babić: Rio Tinto wants to encourage an informed public dialogue

Marijanti Babić, Rio Tinto’s Country Head for Serbia, said the release of the draft studies “encourages an informed public dialogue about the Jadar Project, versus a politicized debate based on misinformation and fake news.”

The studies, according to her, are giving the local community and all stakeholders the opportunity to see for themselves the work that has been done to date.

Rio Tinto states that the draft studies are the result of six and a half years of work. Work on the studies, the company says, began by gathering baseline data, followed by conducting more than 23,000 biological, physical, and chemical analyses of soil, water, air, and noise.

Releasing the 2,000-page draft studies accompanied by explanatory materials is not the start of the formal EIA review process required under Serbian law, the company stressed.

“The three draft studies are interrelated and interdependent. They are designed to be reviewed and assessed as integrated parts of a broader assessment, not as stand-alone independent documents,” explains Babić, adding that the documents identify possible environmental impacts and propose corresponding protection measures.

Jovović: The most comprehensive studies to ever be conducted in Serbia

Professor Aleksandar Jovović from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the leader of two of the studies, pointed out that these are the most comprehensive studies of their kind to ever be conducted in Serbia.

“Through numerous models, calculations and analysis, the studies analyze in detail the baseline data of the environment and evaluate technical solutions and their impact on the environment and people’s health,” says Jovović.

Based on this, he stresses, all known potential risks were identified in the studies, and appropriate mitigation measures were proposed, demonstrating that the project can be implemented responsibly and safely.

“The involvement of NGOs, university institutions, academics, project design companies and stakeholders in future public hearings about the studies will support developing a high-quality project,” claims Jovović.

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