On September 22, the Serbian government and the European Commission signed a letter of intent to initiate a strategic partnership for batteries and critical raw materials including lithium, Serbian media outlet Demostat reported, citing a statement from the European Commission.
The news broke a month after the event and caused outrage among environmental activists and locals from areas in Serbia that are affected by lithium exploration. Mining projects are facing opposition even in the EU.
The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) pointed out that Serbia is harmonizing its legislation with the European Union as a candidate for membership. It includes mining projects.
In response to Demostat’s remark that Rio Tinto plans to open mines in Serbia and leave it devastated and that Serbia has no mechanisms to prevent this potential scenario, the EC says that “the EU legislation ensures the highest level of environmental protection and social protection, including mining projects.”
“As an EU candidate, Serbia is in the process of harmonizing its legislation with Europe, including environmental policy,” the EC said.
Demostat also reports that the Commission favours the development of processing capacities at the extraction locations.
Activists and locals from the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS) have been opposing lithium exploration and projects for mining and processing for over two years.
Petition against EU’s proposed Critical Raw Materials Act
The proposed Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) aims to accelerate the procedures for mining projects and prioritize the extraction and processing of a group of thirty strategic minerals.
A petition was launched against such a policy with the argument that it would lead to a massive expansion of mining in the EU and even more abroad.
Activists demanded that the European Parliament and ministers responsible for mining in member states reject the bill, claiming it violates basic human and environmental rights. The petition was initiated by Salvemos la Montaña from Spain, Não às Minas from Portugal, Marš sa Drine (member of SEOS) from Serbia, OPSAL from Chile and Earth Thrive from the United Kingdom and the Balkans.
Source: Serbian Monitor