Rio Tinto’s Jadar project in Serbia might go on referendum
Lithium Jadar project is designed to produce 55,000 mt/year of battery grade lithium carbonate — for which global demand is growing in the electric vehicles and electronics sectors — as well as 160,000 mt/year of boric acid (B2O3 units) and 255,000 mt/year of sodium sulfate.
A petition calling for a ban on Rio Tinto’s Jadar lithium mine project and associated metal processing complex in the Jadar Valley because of pollution concerns has garnered more than 110,400 signatures in Serbia by June 10. The four-month-old petition drive, which is backed by a coalition of 19 NGOs, hit the 100,000-signature threshold June 9.
The Serbian government is prepared to hold a referendum to find out the will of citizens, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, said while expressing his support for the project in a press conference June 4. In December, Rio Tinto said when completed Jadar was expected to become the country’s second largest exporter. A feasibility study is expected to be complete at the end of 2021, and if approved, construction would commence in early 2022 and take up to four years.
“This year we are implementing a land acquisition program, which is a prerequisite for a construction permit,” Vesna Prodanovic, general manager of Rio Sava Exploration, said in March.
But not everyone is convinced about the project’s merits.
“I appeal to people not to sell their land and to think about the consequences. This part of Jadar and Radjevina has been inhabited for more than 8,000 years, and no one will force us out,” said Marija Alimpic, an activist with the Protect Jadar and Radjevina NGO, told Serbia’s TV Nova S on June 6.
Prodanovic said that Rio Tinto still does not have an exploitation license, adding that the project is in the feasibility study stage.
“We can’t commence any works prior to the approval of the environmental impact study (EIS), a process that will last this entire year,” Prodanovic stated in an interview April 22.
The company is confident about the EIS process and expects to address all environmental concerns in the study that will be submitted to the Serbian government for approval.
Rio Sava Exploration, Rio Tinto’s Serbian subsidiary, was not immediately available for comment June 10. Rio Tinto’s exploration license reached the end of its life cycle in February 2020. Subsequently, the company applied for a retention license under Serbian regulations with the new permit covering an area of 66.8 square km (25.8 square miles), approved by the government in February 2020. It is valid until September 2021.
Role of public opinion
The new challenge to Jadar in Serbia is emerging in the wake of Rio Tinto’s promise to improve its cultural heritage policies globally and to ensure against the destruction of heritage sites of exceptional archaeological and cultural significance.
The commitment for greater sensitivity was made in the aftermath of Rio Tinto’s apology to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people (PKKP) in Western Australia, in which the company admitted that the destruction of 46,000-year-old Aboriginal Juukan rock shelters “was wrong.”
The destruction of the two Aboriginal caves in Pilbara caused a public relations debacle that resulted in the ouster of Rio Tinto’s then-CEO, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, in late 2020.
Mining in sensitive locations is becoming fraught with additional risk of regulatory clampdown. Rio Tinto experienced this recently after the U.S. Agriculture Department withdrew approval for the proposed Resolution Copper mine in Arizona after a public outcry that ensued following events in Australia.
Resolution Copper, 26 years in the making, was expected to have relatively little surface disruption as it is not a surface pit mine, but an underground mine like the proposed Jadar project.
Rio Tinto’s Jadarite mine in Serbia danger for the environment and population
At a protest against environmental damage in Serbia, the Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, Ratko Ristic, drew attention to the danger posed by nature and population to the Rio Tinto Jadarite mine near Loznica.
Aleksandar Jovanovic Cuta from the movement “Let’s Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina”, Desimir Stojanov – Desko from the village of Rakita, professor of the Faculty of Biology Biljana Stojkovic, Iva Markovic from the initiative “Right to Water”, Lejla Kusturica from the Coalition for River Protection (BiH) also spoke at the protest.
In their own way, all speakers warned that the environment in Serbia is being rapidly destroyed by numerous harmful processes, which primarily include the construction of derivation SHPPs, uncontrolled deforestation and disposal of industrial and other waste, and mining projects that disrupt the environment.
Environmental organizations announced joint demands before the protest. The list of requests includes respect for the Constitution and existing laws in the field of environmental protection, harmonization of regulations with the highest standards of protection, participation of citizens in healthy environmental issues and increasing the area under protection and active implementation of adequate measures.
In addition, environmental associations are, as before, advocating for the suspension of logging in protected areas and afforestation, suspension of construction and revision of harmful SHP projects and conservation of water resources.
Environmentalists and activists are also aware of the catastrophic situation in urban areas, and demand that the principles of sustainability be respected in urban planning, as opposed to, as they state, the current investor urbanism.
Some of the other items that were supported by their presence today were active waste management, development of a quality air plan, sustainable development, and development and adoption of the National Energy Climate Plan. This plan should regulate an environmentally sound and justified transition to renewable energy sources.
The Minister of Environmental Protection, Irena Vujovic, reacted to the protest with a statement stating that the Ministry and other competent departments in the Government are dedicated, responsible and transparent in eliminating environmental problems which, according to the statement transmitted by the media, “did not occur overnight”.
The main organizer of the protest is the movement Let’s Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina, and the protest was supported by over sixty organizations and initiatives from all over Serbia. Among them are the Right to Water initiative, the Joint, the Podrinje anti-corruption team, the movement Let’s Defend the Forests of Fruska Gora, the Battle of Vlasina, Let’s Not Drown Belgrade and many others. Representatives of the Association of Online Workers also joined the protest, Masina reports.
Jadar Resources exploring lithium at seven locations in Serbia
With the already existing three mining licenses, Australian company “Jadar Resources” received a license for mining research at four more locations in Serbia, so, it will search for lithium in seven places in the country. This company is looking for ore in the so-called lithium-borate Vardar belt in Serbia, Australian media reported.
They are currently conducting research on Mount Cer, near Vranje and Rekovac. They have now obtained four more permits for a total area of 261 square kilometers, at the Ursula and Siokovac locations, near their existing Rekovac exploration field, and at the Dobrinja and Pranjani locations near Cacak.
As confirmed on the website of the company “Jadar Resources”, the findings of lithium and borate were confirmed at the Rekovac location. The Australian company intends to form a new company “Balkan Mining and Minerals” to explore that location. The new company plans to recapitalize 6.5 million Australian dollars and go public. “Jadar Resources” will keep 22% of ownership in the new company.
The Australian mining company “Sandfire Resources” has already expressed interest in investing two million dollars in a new company.
Rio Tinto lithium mine in Serbia and ICT metal mining case study
The Jadar River and its alluvial plain, together with upstream tributaries and streams near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, are one of the relatively well-preserved parts of Serbia, where most of the locals are engaged in agricultural production. According to the latest census, about 20,000 citizens in the region are actively relying on agriculture. This region is suitable for the production of honey, grapes, fruits, vegetables and livestock. The new mine threatens to change all that and has resulted in mass opposition from citizens. The Government of Serbia promotes this investment as a project of the century, “a project that will put Serbia on the map of high technologies” and which should serve as the leading success of both Rio Tinto and the Government of Serbia. However, there are a number of problems with the project, mainly because Rio Tinto has not disclosed key information about how lithium will be extracted and what impacts it will have on the population; the Government of Serbia did not inform the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia about the planned project through cross-border consultations; It offered illegal support to facilitate the start-up of the mining company; and the project will drastically and irreparably change the environment and the lives of the residents who live there.
Missing project parameters
Through a series of meetings with civil society and community members in 2020, Rio Sava, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto in Serbia, revealed different versions of the project parameters under consideration. However, the current spatial plan and strategic environmental impact assessment do not contain details on the technologies that would be used to produce lithium; any description of the amount of products, waste and water consumed from the rivers Jadar and Drina; details of the impact on surrounding towns and municipalities; or what will happen when Jadar floods areas where Rio Tinto plans to set up chemical plants, flotation, storage of hazardous materials or explosive chemicals. Despite enormous efforts and over $ 200 million spent, Rio Tinto did not disclose the final design of the process, claiming it was its intellectual property. Obviously, it does not matter that this “intellectual property” will directly jeopardise hundreds of square meters of well-preserved landscape and villages. The special-purpose spatial plan, presented in December 2019, requires an assessment of economic feasibility and environmental and social impacts. They have not been implemented or made available to the public. The plan states that the project will cover 293.9 square kilometres in the Loznica and Krupanj areas, where there are four partially or completely protected areas, the most important of which is Tršić – Tronoša. The jadarite deposit itself is located in the river valley on agricultural land, and the mineral is at a depth of 100 to 720 meters.
According to the spatial plan, the mining activity zone will cover 854.8 hectares; the production and industrial activities zone will cover an area of 646.5 hectares; other land that will be used for industrial waste disposal, construction of access roads and accompanying infrastructure, will cover an area of 358.5 hectares. It will be necessary to purchase some land and real estate and relocate households. Nevertheless, the plan did not provide specific information on how the project will affect the surrounding area and the people who live there. The company’s presentations also did not reveal exact numbers on the amounts of water, sulphuric acid and other acids, heavy metals and other toxic substances that will be used, citing commercial confidentiality. According to currently developed technologies, lithium extraction is a set of chemical processes in which lithium, a highly reactive alkali metal, is isolated from a sample. After the mineral material is removed from the ground, it must be heated and broken. The crushed mineral powder is combined with chemical reagents, such as sulphuric acid, and then the slurry is heated, filtered and concentrated by an evaporation process to give lithium carbonate. The resulting wastewater is treated for reuse or disposal.
Rio Sava lists about 16 chemical reactions needed in lithium mining, and about 500,000 litres of water are usually needed to extract one ton of lithium. Such a need for water from the local environment would affect farmers, who would be deprived of valuable resources for livestock and crop irrigation. In addition, a toxic cocktail of chemicals used to extract lithium from the ground could also seep into nearby rivers, streams and water supplies. This is exactly the kind of catastrophe that happened in 2016 on the Lika River in Tibet, where mining operations contaminated the water and resulted in thousands of dead fish and numerous cases of cattle poisoning.
However, Rio Tinto has not yet revealed what technology it will use to extract lithium from jadarite. Because the ore in this region has a unique composition, the extraction technology is still unknown and is being tested at the Bundoor Center for Technological Development in Melbourne, Australia.
Unclear costs of lithium mine exploration and preparation
One of the most problematic issues regarding the Jadar project is the confusing figures related to Rio Tinto’s investment in research so far. According to some 2016 reports, Rio Tinto invested $ 60 million, but in 2015 it reported that it had already invested $ 70 million in research. In 2019, they reported a total investment for the same purpose of $ 200 million, while in July 2020 they stated that they had invested $ 250 million. In July 2020, Rio Tinto approved an additional investment of nearly $ 200 million for the further development of the Jadar project. Currently in the Project Feasibility Study phase, the team is focused on completing the technical documentation, completing the Resources and Reserves Study in accordance with Serbian regulations and obtaining the necessary permits and purchasing land.
Questionable state participation
In July 2017, a memorandum was signed between Rio Tinto and the Serbian government, represented by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, confirming that lithium production will begin in 2023. Although there is a high level of institutional support for a completely private mining company, the Serbian government has decided to use government and other state capacities to facilitate obtaining permits, claiming that the project is “in the public interest”. This constitutes illegal administrative support. Such project classification also resulted in indirect financial support to Rio Tinto in obtaining the necessary land and property for project development. The government also plans to provide infrastructural support to the project in the form of investments in the removal of regional roads, construction of new roads, provision of high voltage network, gas connection, and most devastating of all is providing water from the Drina River in large daily quantities.
The Serbian NGO Coalition for Sustainable Mining (KORS) has already filed a constitutional complaint stating that the acquisition of land and property for mining is an exclusive private activity that has acquired the status of public interest, which is obviously contrary to the Serbian Constitution and European standards on state aid. On 26 November 2020, the government established a government body to oversee the project. This group consists of ministers, state secretaries, representatives of Loznica and public companies, which are members or close allies of the ruling party and are therefore unlikely to challenge authoritarian and undemocratic decisions, and are unlikely to be any real or democratic discussions of alternatives.
Residents were not informed
Residents affected by the project, especially in the villages of Loznica and Krupanj municipalities, were not properly informed by the government or Rio Tinto about the project. They learned from secondary sources that a large project was being prepared that could endanger their lives and the environment. They revealed that public consultations for this strategic plan have been announced, but none of the citizens have been informed about it. At the end of November 2020, none of the representatives of interested NGOs or the local population was invited to participate in the detailed feasibility assessment process. Moreover, Rio Tinto and the Serbian government have neither conducted any socioeconomic studies on mine-free development scenarios, nor studies on how much potential agricultural production will be lost and the cost of toxins entering water, food, air and soil in the region. When they found out about Rio Tinto’s plans, the residents quickly took action trying to stop the project. They are still feeling the negative effects of nearby lead mines and processing plants, most of which have been closed for more than a decade. They believe that it is impossible for such destructive industrial activities to coexist with the diverse, high-quality agricultural production they rely on to generate income.
Citizens are fighting back
Despite the organized threats of Rio Tinto and the government, the opposition of the citizens in Loznica and throughout Serbia is growing. In early October 2020, approximately one hundred citizens protested in front of the Rio Tinto Information Center in Loznica, demanding that a referendum be held before the mine opens. Several organizations issued proclamations demanding the cessation of all research, administrative and legal proceedings and activities related to mine construction; abandoning the lithium exploitation project; and withdrawing decisions on a special-purpose spatial plan for Jadar. It is clear that this project will have cross-border effects if it moves on, due to its position near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the fact that the Jadar flows into the Drina River, which continues in B&H.
KORS and the NGOs for Jadar and Radjevina Protection informed the activists of non-governmental organizations from B&H, and in the autumn of 2020 these activists called on the B&H government to request cross-border EIA, as waste from the mine, which would be carried by the Drina from Serbia, would then pollute arable land in B&H.
The Serbian government ignored mass opposition and continued to co-operate with Rio Tinto and hold diplomatic meetings with representatives of the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, the World Bank and the EU Delegation to Serbia, who also support the project. If everything goes according to plan, mine development should start in 2022. Rio Tinto has started purchasing properties (houses and land) at locations where it plans to open the entrance to the underground mine and processing plant (some 40 households included), so it can start construction work immediately after the final project decision. The intention is not to use expropriation, but to obtain the necessary land by agreement. However, during these purchases, Rio Tinto told the owners that if they do not sell the land at the offered price, they will be expropriated. This reinforces the conclusion that Rio Tinto has a preferential status with the Serbian government and that it directly manipulates and uses the administrative power of the state to its private advantage.
Rio Tinto is ecological catastrophe for Serbian citizens
Activists of several associations of citizens and environmental groups submitted a petition to Prime Minister Ana Brnabic with more than 32,000 signatures against the project of the company Rio Tinto, which wants to open a lithium mine in the valley of the river Jadar. Activists and experts who do not agree with the project have presented all the dangers to the environment and the population to the Prime Minister. The guests of the morning program of TV Nova S “Wake up” were doctor of technical sciences Mirjana Lukic Andjelkovic and activist Miroslav Mijatovic.
For the Government, as it was heard after the meeting, the project and the agreement with the company Rio Tinto are unquestionable and have the support of the Government. On the other hand, activists and experts expressed fears about the potential danger due to the realization of that project.
“The arrival of Rio Tinto is one big environmental disaster announced. They will occupy 22,000 hectares of fertile land and will make degraded land there,” believes Lukic Andjelkovic.
She notes that the construction of the railway is also planned, and the land, according to this expert, will be endangered by sulfuric acid, arsenic and tailings.
Lukic Andjelkovic also says that the company Rio Tinto claims that they will “neutralize” all that. However, she believes that boron and lithium will remain in the tailings, which will endanger the Jadar and Korenita rivers.
“They plan to make a mine for the next 60 years, they actually plan to make a mountain of tailings. Where there is tailings, there is no grass, nothing grows,” she says and notes as a problem that the production process itself is not known, Nova reports.
Large scale lithium and borate mineralisation in Rekovac, Serbia identified by Jadar Resource
Jadar Resource Limited drilled 8 km widely spaced holes which intersect borate and lithium mineralisation, suggesting a potential for a large-scale mineralisation system. Serbian government welcomes battery metals, Rio Tinto to commence development of $1.4 billion lithium borate project.
Jadar Resources is a diversified mining explorer holding key Gold/Silver and Lithium/Borate assets in the mineral rich jurisdictions across Peru, Serbia and Austria. Backed by robust and experienced management, Jadar is focused on the exploration and development of the mining projects to maximise the value creation for its shareholders and investors.
Jadar in the Prolific Mining Centres Globally
The most recent addition to the Jadar’s arsenal is the Yanamina epithermal gold Project in the Ancash province of Peru in early 2020. The Yanamina project holds a JORC 2012 compliant maiden mineral resource of 6,742,260 tonnes containing over 265,987 ounces of Gold and 934,528 ounces of Silver. The Yanamina gold projects hold a strong prospectivity for large scale mining operation with good operational economics. An exploration program in 2020 has been planned to further upgrade the mineral resources for the gold-silver project.
Jadar owns 80% stake in the Weinebene and Eastern Alps Lithium Projects in Austria. The project is located in the neighbourhood of significant Lithium discoveries including European Lithium Limited’s Wolfsberg lithium deposit which holds over 11 Mt of mineral resources with 1.0% Li2O.
In addition, Jadar wholly owns the Lithium & Borate projects of Rekovac, Vranje South and Cer. The explorer has prioritised the Rekovac project among its Serbian assets. The Rekovac Lithium-Borate project stretches across a 75.4 square kilometres area with Sedimentary lithium borate deposits.
Jadar’s Serbian Presence, Reconnaissance Drilling Program Completed
The Rekovac Lithium-Borate project is situated in the World class Vardar geological zone of Central Serbia and showcases similar geological setting to the Jadar Basin which hosts one of the largest lithium deposit globally, Rio Tinto’s Jadarite which holds mineral resources of 135.7 Mt @ 1.86% Li2O and 15.4% B2O3. Earlier in May, Jadar announced the assay results for the maiden reconnaissance diamond drilling program at the Rekovac project. The company intersected preserved Borate and Lithium mineralisation in both holes, suggesting the site could hold a large mineral system.
The drilling program which commenced in February discovered new Lithium and Borate mineralisation intersections at 2 holes namely, REK_001 and REK_002 totalling over 1,238.1 metres. The diamond drill hole REK_001 was drilled to a vertical depth of 600.1 metres while REK_002 was drilled to 638 metres, collecting over 339 core samples which were geochemically assayed with 16 samples further being analysed for x-ray diffraction for further analysis on the mineral rock composition and identification.
The drilling program targeted the gravity anomalies, which indicated Neogene basin, which during the previous sampling and assaying results indicated the potential for lithium-boron rich discoveries. The drilling intercepts included multiple segments of boron sequences. Boron is interpreted to be present in the sodium borosilicate (Searlesite with up to 60,858 ppm B2O3) and Lithium clay mineral with Li2O grades (up to 969 ppm Li2O). The drill hole REK_001 intersected 2 sequences of the encapsulated mineralisation represented by searlesite in irregular veinlets and wafered parallel sheets of mm-sized crystals from 515.9 metres and 195 metres of borate rich mineralisation from 405 metres downhole.
The 2.5 metre intercepts with over 10,000 ppm of B2O3 and up to 484 ppm Li2O from 515.9 metres are follows:
– 0.6 metres with 16,454 ppm B2O3 and 474 ppm Li2O from 515.9 metres
-1.9 metres with 12,349 ppm B2O3 and 484 ppm Li2O from 578.5 metres
The drill hole REK_002 is located almost 1.8 metres south of the first drill hole, with the drilling intersecting 5 mineralised sequences with dominating mineral as searlesite in the form of irregular veinlets and layer from 35 metres and very thin distributed nodules from 98.8 metres downhole. REK-002 hole included 171 metres of intercept holding B2O3 with grades exceeding 10,000 ppm and up to 969 ppm Li2O from 35 metres downhole with 49.6 metres holding over 20,000 ppm of B2O3 and up to 624 ppm Li2O from 51.5m.
Further intervals and coring samples with greater than 10,000 ppm of B2O3 will be analysed further by sodium hydroxide fusion and ICP high grade analysis for boron and lithium contents. With the drilling program striking significant boron and lithium mineralisation in both the drilling holes indicating the presence of a much larger mineralisation system. The gravity survey further indicated that the Rekovac basin remains open to the north and south with a potential to host extensive mineralisation system within the project area.
The completion of the drilling program marks a milestone which enables Jadar to complete all mandatory procedures to extend the Rekovac project license for the next 3 years. The extension notice from the Serbian Ministry of Mines and Energy is anticipated in the near term.
Jadar is advancing aggressively on the Yanamina and Serbian Lithium-Borate projects with further exploration plans in 2020 and is committed to the exploration and development of the projects to maximise the value creation for its shareholders and investors.
Highly promising boron and lithium deposits detected near Jagodina in Serbia
The Jadar Resources company drilled two maiden holes for a total of 1238.1 metres at the Rekovac lithium and borate project in Serbia and had made some promising results. This Australian company has discovered lithium and boron deposits on the territory of the Rekovac municipality, not far from Jagodina, which resemble those that the mining conglomerate Rio Tinto recently discovered near Loznica.
In two exploratory borings at the distance of around 1.8 kilometres, the mining company detected indicators that show a considerable concentration of boron and lithium – elements indispensable in the production of batteries and electric vehicles.
The company, which has three licenses for explorations in the Rekovac area, although satisfied with the initial results, points out that this is only the beginning, but also that the initial results are promising and indicative of enormous mineral deposits of boron and lithium ores. The company also has five concessions for gold explorations in Peru, where they have discovered substantial reserves of precious metals, but also in Austria, where they’ve discovered a site with 11 million tonnes of the lithium ore.
The Australian company notes that the results from Rekovac are very similar to Rio Tinto’s near Loznica. Rio Tinto should begin the exploitation in 2024, and the Loznica site contains 10% of the global reserves of lithium.
To remind, the Canadian company Erin Ventures has initiated the preparation of a study of ore reserves, which is the first step toward getting an exploitation permit.
In the Piskanja region, near the abandoned coal mines close to Baljevac on the Ibar River, they have detected reserves of boron and lithium, a site worth around USD 2 billion, with an exploitation period of two decades.
Rio Tinto Jadar Lithium project, exploitation environment impacts
Lithium borate reserves at the site near Loznica have been estimated roughly at 135 million tons. Vladimir Simic, a professor at the Faculty of Mining and Geology, says the underground will be exploited. “There should be no problematic effects, because I suppose as with most borates and similar minerals – these are easily soluble minerals that will be converted into lithium and boron in some technological process,” he added.
The Jadar project, developed by one of the leading mining companies Rio Tinto in Serbia, includes one of the world’s largest lithium borate deposits. Jadar is a unique deposit of a new lithium sodium borosilicate mineral of jadarite discovered in 2004 near Loznica in western Serbia. Rio Tinto has invested more than $ 130 million so far in the development of the Jadar project, and if the investment is approved, the planned construction of mines and processing plants could begin in 2021.
The jadarite ore was discovered in 2004 and recognized as a new mineral in 2007, and 15 years later we talk about the final phase of the exploration, which we heard after a meeting between Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the Minister responsible with company representatives.
Vladimir Simic, a professor at the Faculty of Mining and Geology at the Department of Economic Geology, explains that the final phase of the exploration means, according to our laws, that a resource and reserves study will be finalized to determine exactly how much ore is available, which is a part of commercially available to take out, in what way, under what conditions, at what cost and finally at what profit.
“About 135 million tonnes of ore have been investigated so far, according to the available Rio Tinto materials. It is no small amount for a single bed that spans six to seven square kilometers. Of course, these are not fully defined reserves yet, we do not know if all this can be taken out commercially or not, “says Simic, adding that additional studies and analyzes are needed and that this is a big deal.
He thinks that the bearing, geologically speaking, is well defined.
Otherwise, it states that the basin where the jadarite was found was drilled from tens of thousands of wells during the 1970s and 1980s, when uranium was being explored. “And I just can’t believe no one has ever drilled jadarite before,” says the professor. But he states that the state was working on purpose at the time – if uranium was being explored, it was done and there was no budget for other more detailed examinations of all the sediments that had been passed.
Lithium borate reserves at the site near Loznica have been estimated roughly at 135 million tons. Asked how much it can be exploited, Simic says – it depends on Rio Tinto.
Talking about the benefits to the state, he states that it is certainly something that would lead to the employment of people. He said that we have good experts.
“They will invest in it, they will pay the state a fee for the use of mineral resources that is required by law … I do not know about lithium, because it does not appear in existing laws, it will probably be something similar to other non-metallic mineral raw materials, maybe up to five percent of profits – though it is never clear to me out of which profit. It is not clear to me, and I have been dealing with mineral raw materials for 30 years, ”the professor said.
When asked what this will mean for the environment, the professor says that since the jadarite is located in three levels, the depth of the reduced level is from 100 to 700 and below meters, and that the best is the lowest layer, therefore at the greatest depth – it will have to be exploited underground. “There should be no problematic effects, because I suppose, as with most borates and similar minerals, they are easily soluble minerals that will be converted to lithium and boron in some technological process,” Simić added.
Lithium is used in the manufacture of batteries that power vehicles, computers, mobile phones and industrial systems, as well as alloys for the aviation industry.
Rio Tinto invests $200 mln in Serbia’s Jadar lithium project exploration
British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto has so far invested $200 million (181.5 million euro) in the exploration of the Jadar lithium borate project in Serbia and plans to make a final investment decision in 2021, the Serbian government said.
The company has drilled about 300 wells and processed more than 200 kilometers of core since the start of exploration activities, the government said last week after a meeting of prime minister Ana Brnabic with the CEO Energy and Minerals of Rio Tinto, Bold Baatar, in Belgrade.
The Jadar project involves the development of underground mines and the construction of a plant for the metallurgical and technological processing of concentrates. Expected end products are 99.5%-pure boric acid and lithium carbonate, to be used in the production of lithium batteries, the government said.
Rio Tinto discovered the lithium borate deposit in the valley of teh Jadar river in 2004 and plans to start production in 2023. Jadar is estimated to contain 10% of the world’s deposits of lithium, the primary raw material for production of batteries for electric vehicles. The Jadar lithium borate discovery in Serbia is estimated at 135.7 million tonnes with a weighted average concentration of 1.86% of lithium oxide.