After the Association of Environmental Organizations in Serbia, known as SEOS, pointed out in public on several occasions that the claims of the country’s leadership that it abandoned the Jadar project are void and that Rio Tinto is continuing with its operations according to earlier plans, the company’s subsidiary issued a press release. Rio Sava company, a local daughter company, said it intends to complete an internal feasibility study in line with “previous commitments” and is waiting for the new government.
Even though the Government of Serbia declared in January that it would stop Rio Tinto’s project, activists from the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS) claim that the mining company is still working on project design with the United States–based Bechtel and that they are looking for a partner to install a wastewater treatment unit.
The movement published what it said was a screenshot of an email dated August 8 in which Bechtel suggested to the addressee, whose name is blurred, to send a price offer for a wastewater treatment facility.
Rio Tinto has been cooperating with Bechtel on the Jadar project since 2018
Answering the activists’ accusations, Rio Tinto said it signed a project management contractor deal with Bechtel in 2018. Moreover, the company revealed that all its current “activities are a continuation of previous commitments,” including the work to complete the internal feasibility study. Rio Tinto noted that it needs to collect and assess “design data from relevant vendors to meet applicable technical, environmental and sustainability standards.”
The feasibility study was supposed to include the environmental impact assessment study, the parts of which were leaked in February.
The world’s biggest mining company, which entered the lithium business with the launch of the Jadar project, has said publicly that when the new government is formed, it hopes it will be able to continue preparations for the construction of a jadarite ore mine and processing plant.
According to cadastral data, its Serbian subsidiary Rio Sava Exploration became the owner of ten land lots early this month in the zone of the planned mine. Since the government said the administrative process is over, SEOS has been pointing to pressures from authorities and the company, mostly with lawsuits and numerous activities indicating the project isn’t over.
SEOS has pointed to pressures from authorities and the company, mostly with lawsuits, and to numerous activities indicating Rio Tinto’s project isn’t over
Marijana Petković from local activist group Ne damo Jadar said the company didn’t cancel anything and is redecorating its offices in the village of Gornje Nedeljice, the area of the planned mine near the city of Loznica.
One month ago, Ne damo Jadar and Marš sa Drine, both members of SEOS, signed the Jadar Declaration on international solidarity in the struggle against lithium exploitation and environmental protection.
After several months of protests throughout Serbia, the government announced the decision to stop issuing licenses for the lithium project.