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20/07/2024
Mining News

Rio Tinto assures on 2500 pages – There is a solution for every potential danger

Rio Tinto executed a move announced six months ago – they published drafts of environmental impact studies on how harmful the lithium mine in the Jadar Valley would be to people and nature. Spanning around 2500 pages, these documents contain extensive technical data indicating that the mine would indeed endanger the environment. However, Rio Tinto claims to have solutions for every potential problem. Notably, the opinions of the Faculty of Biology in Belgrade, which reportedly did not approve the project, are absent from the three documents.

Land, Water, Air, Flora, and Fauna Threatened by Lithium Mine – But Solutions Exist, Says Rio Tinto

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On their website, Rio Tinto published three comprehensive documents detailing potential dangers and proposed solutions. These study drafts were published voluntarily, accompanied by an explanatory video.

“We are publishing the working drafts of these studies to encourage public dialogue about the ‘Jadar’ Project based on facts, as opposed to a politicized debate based on misinformation and fake news,” said Marijanti Babić, the chief representative of Rio Tinto in Serbia.

The environmental impact studies were released as drafts. When the Government terminated the project in early 2022, the procedure was halted – so the study is not complete. However, Rio Tinto claims that most analyses were completed before the termination, including initial conditions before opening the underground mine, potential dangers, and solutions during operations, and conditions after mine closure. This is confirmed by one of the experts involved in the study in a statement also published on the company’s website.

Rio Tinto for Insajder: We Acknowledged the Faculty of Biology’s Opinion

The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Mining and Geology, and Technology and Metallurgy are listed – conspicuously missing is the opinion of the Faculty of Biology. It is known that the Faculty of Biology conducted an impact study and gave a negative assessment of the Jadar mine.

When asked if the negative assessment was the reason why the Faculty of Biology’s analysis was not included in the drafts and what message this sends considering the Faculty’s importance, Rio Tinto responded:

“The results of expert research conducted for Rio Tinto by a consortium led by the Faculty of Biology, as well as the results of previous years of biodiversity research conducted by ERM (international experts along with local consultants), are included in the working drafts of the Environmental Impact Studies published today.

Since 2016, the most modern methods, some used for the first time in Serbia for a greenfield investment, have been used for biodiversity research. Based on these results, impact assessments and mitigation measures were proposed. This primarily concerns establishing initial conditions, potential impacts, mitigation measures, and monitoring. The study authors propose numerous measures and procedures to minimize impacts, enabling the survival of present plant and animal species.

Through research from other institutions included in the draft environmental impact study, potential accident situations relevant to assessing risks to the overall ecosystem are presented. The opinions expressed in the studies will be the subject of further discussion and dialogue about the impacts of the ‘Jadar’ Project.

Through the proposed mitigation measures, the ‘Jadar’ Project sees the Faculty of Biology as a partner for long-term cooperation.”

Association “We Won’t Give Up Jadar” Claims Drafts Are Another Deception

According to Rio Tinto, the Jadar Valley area would look untouched in the end. However, in their initial reaction, the citizens’ association “We Won’t Give Up Jadar” sees Rio Tinto’s move as another deception.

“This is yet another attempt to deceive the public and create a false impression of environmental care, as all problematic projects of this notorious company have had impact studies but have left devastation wherever they operate. Do not forget they are one of the 40 largest polluters in the world,” states the “We Won’t Give Up Jadar” association.

That Rio Tinto does not give up on the mine – despite the project officially being terminated over two years ago after mass protests – was clear even before the study’s publication. The Serbian government’s persistence is also evident from numerous statements by government officials.

For instance, the new Prime Minister, Miloš Vučević, said two days ago, in response to whether he would change the decision of his party colleague, former Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who terminated the project, that the new government has not yet discussed it but will do so in terms of utilizing Serbia’s natural resources.

Whether the mine will be opened at the cost of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat can only be predicted by expert analyses, or impact studies. These studies, by law, are commissioned and paid for by the investor, in this case, Rio Tinto, and what is written is guaranteed by experts by name. Regular procedure requires the Ministry of Environment to first determine what the study should contain, and then the studies must undergo public debate and ministry commission review before any work begins. Procedures and institutions exist. The problem is, however, that a significant number of citizens do not have much trust in them.

Source : Insajder

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