Multi-billion Rio Tinto mining project sparks protests in Serbia

Hundreds of protestors have demonstrated in Loznica, western Serbia, against a mining project they say threatens the local environment.

The multinational corporation Rio Tinto is set to invest billions of euros in the mine, which is a rich potential source of battery-grade lithium carbonate, but some locals and activists say the environmental cost will be too high to pay.

“This project is a danger for our waters, our land, and our future,” said Nebojsa Zelenovic of NGO Action. “That is why we are protesting.”

“With this mine, residents of the valley of the Jadar river would lose everything: first of all, fertile soil that’s better than any in the regions of Macva, Semberija or Vojvodina,” says local resident Aleksandar Karajicic.

But despite the protests, the local authority passed a planning act that could pave the way for the project.

President Aleksandar Vucic has defended the mine on economic grounds – and suggested a local referendum which he believes would be won.

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