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Jadar lithium project: Balancing environmental concerns and expert insights in Serbia

The lithium mine associated with the Jadar project is deemed to have no significant impact on the environment, according to the consensus among professors from the Mining and Geological Faculty, namely Čedomir Beljić and Nikola Lilić, who contributed to the Environmental Impact Assessment Study. They made it clear that the project encompasses not only mining activities but also technological processing, a facet beyond their purview, leading them to refrain from discussing its effects.

Experienced experts assert that, by adhering to the highest environmental protection standards, potential impacts can be effectively managed, as highlighted by Demostat.

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A strong foundation exists for carrying out a project that, from an ecological and environmental protection perspective, can be both sound and successful, devoid of incidents. However, the professors acknowledged that mining does inevitably affect the environment to varying degrees, addressing concerns in a Demostat interview about potential ramifications on water, air, soil, agriculture, and biodiversity.

In response to inquiries about whether the Jadar mine, particularly due to waste, might pose a greater environmental threat than other mines in Serbia, they pointed out that each deposit is unique, representing an unrenewable resource with its own distinct characteristics. The same principle applies to common comparisons in the Serbian public discourse, such as the notion that “if lithium can be mined in Germany, it can be mined in Serbia.”

Environmental impact assessment studies, especially for intricate projects like Jadar, are conducted by expert teams possessing the required competencies and professional responsibility. Following the publication of the study, a public discussion is anticipated, culminating in the technical commission of the relevant ministry presenting recommendations to the government for acceptance or rejection. The professors underscored that this entire process is defined by law, emphasizing that the public is not excluded. However, they noted that work on the impact assessment study was halted when the project was suspended, leaving the public without access to its data.

Expectations were set for the responsible ministry and the Government of Serbia to organize a public discussion involving all pertinent institutions in the country, encompassing mining, engineering, and natural sciences. The goal was to arrive at conclusions through a competent and inclusive debate, ensuring citizens are not excluded from the decision-making process.

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