On Monday, January 22, the company Rio Tinto announced that, as they state, the claim made by activists who are opposed to the “Jadar” project that over 100,000 people will be displaced due to the project is inaccurate. They also mentioned that the assertions that the company has a destructive impact on the environment in all the countries where it operates “have no basis.”
“The project affects 52 permanently inhabited households, of which 51 have been voluntarily sold to Rio Tinto. These households have already been relocated with comprehensive support from our company,” the statement reads.
They state that they regularly inform both the domestic and international public about activities in Serbia, as well as activities related to business operations in other parts of the world.
“These pieces of information are provided to relevant regulatory bodies, shared through communication with international civil society organizations, and regularly published on our company’s website. This includes data that we share regarding the impact of our business operations on water, land, agriculture, and biodiversity, as well as information about measures to mitigate and eliminate these impacts,” the statement says.
Additionally, they state that the company denies “claims associating it with corrupt business practices” and emphasizes that they do not tolerate any form of rule violations, “especially when it comes to corruption.”
“The constant efforts of activists to spread false, inaccurate, or incomplete information about Rio Tinto without any evidence completely undermine the ability to discuss the environmental, economic, and technological aspects of the ‘Jadar’ project based on facts. Such unfounded claims prevent a comprehensive and objective assessment of the benefits that the project can bring,” the company’s statement reads.
They also mention that in the past six months, the company has organized public meetings in Loznica and surrounding areas, with “over 2,500 community members in attendance, where we had the opportunity to engage in constructive, positive discussions.”
“To demonstrate readiness for open discussion, we are also prepared to publicly release the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in its current form to further support the public dialogue on the ‘Jadar’ project. We emphasize that the regulatory process, which includes public input, was interrupted in January 2022,” the statement says.
They also state that they will use all available legal mechanisms to prevent “further spread of false information and accusations and protect the company’s reputation.”
As a reminder, two years ago, after massive protests, the Prime Minister put an end to the Jadar project. However, that decision was not sufficient to dispel doubts about the opening of the lithium mine, and the residents of Gornje Nedeljice—where the mine is planned—remain vigilant on a daily basis.
The President of Serbia conveyed that the Jadar project is not a thing of the past when he discussed the conditions under which the mine could be opened with representatives of the Rio Tinto company in Davos.
In addition to meetings with numerous officials at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the President of Serbia also found time for representatives of Rio Tinto. This time, the president talked about the conditions under which the company would open the mine in Serbia and stated that Serbia is open to discussions on the matter.
Rio Tinto, through its subsidiary “Rio Sava Exploration,” remains committed to obtaining all the necessary documentation for lithium exploitation. On the other hand, the Ministry of Mining and Energy has extended the deadline for Rio Tinto to supplement documentation, even 12 times in the last two years.
Residents of the Jadar valley are stating that they will not allow the opening of the mine, claiming that it would irreversibly destroy the environment.