Europe, Can mining ever be green?

As France prepares to dig for lithium in its own backyard, part of the EU’s broader push to create strategic reserves of key raw materials needed for the green transition, activists worry about the environmental impact of mining

Lithium, Gallium, Magnesium, Indium, Niobium. Although these rare metals and minerals appear to belong to the same family, not all were created equal, at least in the eyes of industry.

The European Commission has listed 30 of them it deems strategic for the future of its ambitious green and digital transitions, but for whose supply Europe has become reliant on foreign countries over the years.

Called “critical raw materials” (CRMs), they fall under the European Union’s strategic autonomy agenda. The Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine served to highlight the EU’s dependencies on other nations for natural resources and reminded the bloc which states were in its corner, and which were not.

After concluding that China plays an outsized role in supplying the Europeans with these materials essential to electric car batteries, windmills and solar panels, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new strategy in her State of the Union address, in September 2022: the EU will seek to diversify its trading partners through new agreements. It was also announced that, in early 2023, the Commission will present a regulation on CRMs to create strategic reserves of those materials on European soil.

Geologists have located critical raw materials across the continent. Finland, Sweden, Spain and Portugal, where deposits have been spotted, are eager to dig into the earth. Will the Europeans go back to the mines? Some countries, such as those in Scandinavia, have a long and ongoing tradition of mining, while others closed their last coal mines decades ago.

In any case, the issue worries environmental activists. The word “eco-mining” is on everyone’s lips in Brussels as well as in the Member States, and the concept should ostensibly help overcome obstacles to opening new mines.

In its consultation last October and November, the European Commission identified a lack of investment to create an EU supply and noted that permit procedures were long and complex. Opening a mine can take up to 15 years, between the exploration process to the extraction itself. Moreover, these projects are highly scrutinised, and the legislation in individual Member States remains demanding when it comes to exploiting their natural resources.

The consultation also pointed out the environmental risk. “We have to define our standards regarding responsible mining,” MEP Hildegard Bentele, the EPP rapporteur for the resolution adopted on CRMs by the European deputies in 2021, tells The Parliament. “Because a mine is always an intervention into nature. We should not be blurry about it.” Rather than “green” or “sustainable”, Bentele hopes for “responsible” mines: the impact on the environment will never be zero, but it is necessary to do everything in our power to minimise it.

The idea that a mine can be “responsible” is put forward by the French authorities and the companies which have recently announced lithium projects in several parts of the country. France, where mines are still taboo, has high ambitions for the production of this new “white gold” necessary for the batteries of future electric cars.

A boom in demand is expected after the ban on fossil fuel cars comes into force in 2035. In the Massif Central, in the centre of France, the French company Imerys has announced a vein capable of producing 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, which translates into 700,000 batteries for future electric cars. It plans to start extracting in 2028.

In the Rhine basin, between France and Germany, several projects aim to extract lithium using geothermal technologies: hot salty water is pumped to the surface, from which operators extract the precious metal before reinjecting the water into the earth. The Australian company Vulcan Energy hopes to produce 50,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually starting in 2027. In the same area, some French companies have also successfully passed their first tests of lithium extraction from geothermal brines.

The zone could supply up to 30 per cent of Europe’s lithium needs. Not bad, considering Thierry Breton, the EU’s Commissioner for the Internal Market, has set the ambitious target of being “almost self-sufficient in lithium for our batteries by 2025”. But what is going to be the environmental impact of those mines?

Thierry Breton, the EU’s Commissioner for the Internal Market, has set the ambitious target of being “almost self-sufficient in lithium for our batteries by 2025”

In the Massif Central, even if the mine is underground, the industrial operator will still have to pump water to be able to work. And if it uses hydro-metallurgical separation techniques to extract lithium, large quantities of water will be required. The enterprise promises to recycle water, but with scant details on how often and how much.

At the Franco-German border, geothermal technologies also raise eyebrows among the locals. People are afraid of seismic tremors caused by the stress generated underground. Others wonder whether they may be affected by the high level of radioactivity concentrated a few kilometres away underneath their feet.

Even employing so-called “clean” technologies, the new mines don’t convince everyone. Judith Pigneur, an engineer from the French association négaWatt, has observed these new technologies carefully and as well as an outsider can, given that each company is still relatively hush-hush about its extraction process.

“In absolute terms, the environmental impact of CRMs’ exploitation will only increase because deposits will become less and less good and their contents will decrease [in number],” she explains. As a result, companies will have to dig deeper or be more aggressive in the extraction process.

At the European Parliament, the Greens are wrestling with the dilemma of how to ensure the green transition, which requires critical raw materials, while protecting the planet’s remaining resources. There must be some limits to mining in Europe, explains German MEP Henrike Hahn, shadow rapporteur for the European Parliament resolution in 2021: “Obviously, a protected area in Europe, like Natura 2000 [a network of protected areas], are off-limits for mining industries.”

And the recycling of CRMs must be developed and promoted by future EU regulation, with the objective of creating a market of secondary raw materials.

Of the many CRMs, lithium holds a special place. The projected need for batteries will be so huge that many people are uneasy about our ability to maintain stocks. Even those advocating for a reduced consumption of CRMs across the board agree on the importance of lithium. For them, the only hope is to be able to reduce demand in small, incremental ways, with the understanding that it will, in any case, remain high. “Are we going to use lithium for SUVs or for small cars?” wonders Pigneur, the engineer.

Creating reserves of critical raw materials with new mines in Europe will not be enough to meet tomorrow’s needs, no matter the geopolitical and economic urgency, and even with new extra-European trading partners. The CRMs will also have to give way to the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, Parliament Magazine writes.

Serbia and lithium, black and not green

If, in addition to 11,400 tons of metal lithium, 100,000 electric cars were produced annually in Serbia, this would increase carbon dioxide emissions by at least 1.15 million tons or by an additional 3.5 percent.

In addition to the justified concern for damage (pollution of underground and surface water, devastation of forests and agricultural land) that can be produced by the mine and processing plants for obtaining compounds of lithium and boron in the Jadar river valley, there are also less well-known harmful consequences that these activities, and the eventual launch of the production of electric cars in Serbia, I can have.

According to data published in February 2021 by the Rio Sava Exploration company itself, the mine would annually produce about 60,000 tons of lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) or about 11,400 tons of metallic lithium. Without going into the issue of mining, the brochure states that the processing plant would consume 80.8 million cubic meters of natural gas per year, which would increase the consumption of that energy source in Serbia by 3.1 percent, given that in 2020, 2,265.96 million cubic meters.

The annual emission of carbon dioxide CO2, the main cause of global warming, in the technological process of lithium carbonate and boric acid production would be between 526,000 and 620,000 tons, which is an increase of 1.22 to 1.44 percent of the total emission in Serbia, which is 2020 amounted to 43 million tons.

In that estimate, in addition to CO2 emissions due to the burning of 80.8 million cubic meters of natural gas and during production, other necessary chemicals that would be used in the technology of obtaining lithium carbonate and boric acid, as well as the effects of the use of 60,000 tons of calcium oxide (quick lime), 320,000 tons of sulfuric acid, 188,000 tons of different types of cement, 110,000 tons of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) for the deposition of lithium carbonate, while on the other hand, the destruction of more than 520 hectares of forest and agricultural land will permanently destroy the assimilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This assessment does not include gas emissions from various means of transport, bulldozers, trucks, commercial passenger cars, necessary for the functioning of the mine, production plant and administration.

According to official announcements, Serbia is ready to invest significant funds in the gigafactory for the production of lithium-ion accumulator batteries (LIB), and later also electric cars. With the optimistic estimate that 100,000 electric cars with a 50 kWh battery will be produced annually, this would increase carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 500,000 tons or 1.16 percent, because it is known that one kWh battery emits about 100 kilograms during production. CO2. For the production of electric cars without batteries, which include various metals, plastics, glass, rubber, approximately five to six tons of CO2 are emitted per vehicle, or 500,000 to 600,000 tons for 100,000 vehicles, which would increase the emission by 1.16 to 1, 4 percent.

All together, the production of lithium and 100,000 electric cars would annually emit about 1,150,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which means that the annual emission of greenhouse gases would increase by at least 3.5 percent. In other words, each electric car would emit about 11,500 kilograms of CO2. The same amount of CO2 would be emitted by the consumption of 4,420 liters of diesel in ordinary cars (a liter of diesel releases 2.6 kilograms of CO2). This means that with an average consumption of five liters per 100 kilometers, a diesel car would travel 88,400 kilometers before the electric car even leaves the factory.

The EU is planning or has introduced taxes of 50 euros per ton of CO2, so increased emissions would expose Serbia to a cost of at least 75 million euros per year (50 euros times 1,150,000 tons). In addition, it should be noted that the production of just one kWh of lithium-ion battery requires 328 kWh of different types of energy, and Serbia, in addition to importing gas and oil, has been importing electricity for more than a year, and the prices of all energy products are at record levels.

With all that, even if Serbia were to produce 100,000 electric cars a year, which is unlikely, with a 50 kWh battery, it would require about 800 tons of lithium metal. So, only seven percent of the total annual production in Jadro, while Rio Tinto could sell the remaining 93 percent to whoever it wants. Of course, Serbia would also buy lithium from him at realistic, market prices.

In addition to lithium (its share ranges from four to ten percent), positive (cathode) materials contain many other expensive and rare metals, cobalt, manganese and nickel, which Serbia does not have and would have to be imported, and the price of cobalt on the world market has varied from 30,000 to 90,000 dollars per ton in the last five years.

Many were also surprised by the announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Serbia and the Slovakian company InoBat, one of whose investors is Rio Tinto, on the construction of a gigafactory for the production of lithium-ion storage batteries with an innovative, revolutionary approach (?!), but on the basis of already well-known nickel-manganese-cobalt cathodes NMC622.

By looking at InoBat’s website, it can be seen that they have developed only one so far prototype of a lithium-ion battery, giving virtually no specifications of that prototype, such as voltage, specific capacity, energy, etc. The internet presentation does not show any mini-factory built so far, so the construction of a giga-factory of this extremely technologically demanding production is highly debatable. Of course, the presentation showed fantasies about flying cars, plant sketches, and a modern, in my humble opinion, average typical laboratory with empty desks, as if drawn.

If all these ideas and projects come to fruition, the crucial question is how to charge such “green” electric cars. The most environmentally acceptable solution is solar energy. The problem, however, is that a quick, half-hour charging of an electric car with a 50 kWh battery requires about 100 kW of electrical power. Therefore, the minimum area of the solar collector would be 800 square meters (dimensions 28 by 28 meters), because an average solar collector of 1.6 square meters (meter by 1.6 meters) and in ideal conditions gives a power of 0.275 kW, and in an average of 0.2 kW.

A multi-car charging station would have to have a huge area for the installation of solar collectors, which is technically unfeasible in urban conditions. And if solar photovoltaic panels were to be installed outside cities, even greater problems of transmission and distribution of that energy would arise. The relatively low DC voltage of the solar photovoltaic collectors would first have to be converted into alternating current by special devices, inverters, and then the voltage should be raised to a much higher value with transformers in order to reduce losses, transmission lines with copper wires should be built, and transformers again in order to reduced the voltage to a usable value and finally installed rectifiers alternating to direct current, which all represent huge investments. Aside from the fact that six to eight tons of carbon dioxide is released to produce a ton of steel for transmission lines and copper for conductors.

An even bigger problem is that solar collectors cannot work 24 hours a day, so additional accumulators are necessary to store surplus solar electricity, so that electric cars can be charged during the night, and all this produces new construction and maintenance costs.

Wind energy (wind generators) is a special story because of the big environmental consequences and oscillations (no wind, no electricity), and they are mostly built on fertile Vojvodina soil to reduce transport costs from locations like Stara Planina.

Because of all this, electric cars would probably be powered by electricity obtained from thermal power plants, because around 70 percent of electricity is produced by burning lignite in Serbia. Considering that 1,490 kWh of electricity can be produced from one ton of lignite from Kolubara, for 100 chargings on average, each electric car would consume 3.3 tons of lignite per year. Therefore, only 10,000 electric cars would increase coal consumption in Serbia by 33,000 tons, and electricity by as much as 50 GWh per year.

Certain parts for electric cars are also problematic. The construction of a lithium-ion battery consists of a positive and negative electrode, a thin porous separator that prevents their contact, and an electrolyte. The last two parts are the main causes of battery fires and explosions. Accidents accompanied by fire and explosion are mainly caused by uncontrolled overheating of batteries, manufacturing errors, damage to batteries in collisions… Self-ignition of a battery always causes an internal short circuit, which occurs when an electrical circuit is formed inside the cell, due to damage to the separator and the formation of an electrical connection between the positive and negative electrodes. The most common cause is corrosion of the negative copper collector, which occurs when the cell discharges below 30 percent capacity.

A battery pack in some electric vehicles can store up to 100 kWh of electricity, and when ignited it can release from two to twenty kilograms of hydrogen fluoride, which is enough to contaminate between 80,000 and 800,000 cubic meters of air. It is unimaginable what would happen in a chain collision of several such cars, because inhaling hydrogen fluoride can cause laryngospasm, laryngeal edema, bronchospasm and/or acute pulmonary edema, and in the most severe cases it can be fatal. According to the standards of the American National Institute for Occupational Safety, a concentration of 24.5 milligrams of hydrogen fluoride per cubic meter of air for 30 minutes is immediately dangerous to life and health, while the latent (lethal) concentration is 139 mg/m3.

An internal short circuit caused by a manufacturing defect is believed to be the root cause of both the 2013 Boeing 787 battery accident and the 2016 Samsung Galaxy 7 cell phone battery explosion. As of February 2022, there were 354 (or about 22 per year) confirmed air/airport incidents involving lithium batteries transported as cargo or baggage.
“In an effort to minimize potential damage to the facility”, and nearby vehicles in rare cases of potential fire, we recommend parking outdoors and 15 or more meters from another vehicle. In addition, we still insist that you do not leave your vehicle unattended while it is charging, even if you are using a charger in an open parking lot,” said Dan Fowlers, a spokesman for General Motors, as reported by the Detroit News on September 17, 2021. That safety “recommendation” came is just days after a 2019 GM Chevrolet Bolt caught fire in the garage of a home in Cherokee County, Georgia.

The owner realized something was up when the smoke alarm in his house went off. When he entered the garage, he noticed smoke billowing from his electric car, which was completely destroyed. Chevrolet has recalled more than 140,000 of the model so far, but is still working with supplier LG Energy Solution to determine the cause of the battery damage that led to the fire.
On November 23, 2022, firefighters used an enormous 45,425 liters of water to extinguish the Tesla Model S fire. Unfortunately, the fire is very difficult to extinguish because it is an internal combustion in the cell, where water cannot reach. By comparison, a standard car fire generally requires less than 2,000 liters of water. In Australia in 2021, it took three full days to put out the big battery fire at the Victorian Big Battery in Moorabbin, near Geelong. The fire started during testing in a shipping container containing a 13-ton lithium-ion battery and spread to another battery pack.

These are just some of the accidents with lithium-ion batteries. The predicted exponential growth of their application in the near future, as well as the purchase of cheaper systems with less security, leads to the thought of a drastic increase in such relatively sporadic cases, with unforeseeable consequences, especially if electric cars catch fire in densely populated urban areas or in a tunnel.

Considering the large emission of carbon dioxide during production, the possibility of self-ignition, the lack of resources for the production of a large number of lithium-based electric cars, the synergy of different alternative sources should be considered. Some of the alternatives in the near future are sodium-ion batteries, hydrogen energy and fuel galvanic couplings, as well as liquid and gaseous biofuels (biodiesel, bioalcohols, biogas), which do not pollute the environment, since the amount of carbon dioxide produced by their combustion is equal to the amount that would be released by rotting the biomass from which they are obtained. The possibilities are unlimited, and clean energy is all around us, we just need to recognize it and use it, NiN writes.

The story of Serbian lithium is once again in the revival phase

That nothing is “cemented” in politics is shown by the revival of the story about lithium and its exploitation by the same actors, and some new ones, not caring much about what they said about it recently, before the elections.

The story of Serbian lithium is once again in the revival phase, even though, allegedly, the topic was put to rest at the beginning of the year. We all remember well when Prime Minister Ana Brnabić declared on January 20 that the government canceled the decree on the Spatial Plan of the special purpose area for the implementation of the jadarite ore exploitation and processing project, as well as that all administrative acts related to the company “Rio Tinto” and its daughter company “Rio Sava”. “All the decisions, all the permits, and we never had the contracts were annulled… This is the end of the ‘Jadar’ and ‘Rio Tinta’ project,” said the Prime Minister at the time, after the session of the Government of Serbia.

This was preceded by mass environmental protests because the mining of the famous “kryptonite”, due to the way of exploitation, can bring more harm than good. Those claims were the main slogans of the protests that took place on Saturdays for three weeks in a row, where tens of thousands of citizens expressed their displeasure and blocked the most important roads.

Due to protests and expressed fear of an ecological disaster, even the denounced multinational concern “Rio Tinto”, whose intention is to invest 2.4 billion dollars in the project to build the largest lithium mine in Europe and one of the largest in the world, decided to stop the project. Jadar”. At least that’s what Vesna Prodanović, general director of “Rio Sava”, the daughter company of this British-Australian mining giant, said.

This stoppage and the promises from “Rio Tinto” were preceded by several decisions of state and local authorities. After visiting Jadar and talking with the locals, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić did not sign the Law on Expropriation and that act will not be in the procedure until further notice, while the Law on Referendum was sent back to the Assembly for correction, so the controversial parts of that act were urgently changed at the request of the alarmed public.

The Assembly of Loznica, a city of 20,000 inhabitants, in December canceled the spatial plan that envisages a mine in that area, and all after the announcement of the President of Serbia and the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) that this will be done and that in the future they will deal with “Rio Tinto” talk differently.

Moratorium and protests

At the beginning of the new year 2022, after Christmas, the President of Serbia stated that he expects the Government of Serbia to terminate all contracts with “Rio Tinto”, but also that his position is that they should not “disrespect the people”. Moreover, he expressed the opinion that a moratorium should be adopted until the end of the year so that the state does not lose its chance and money.

Discordant and, at times, contradictory statements from the top only increased the suspicion of environmental movements and protesters, which is why they insisted on a 20-year moratorium on lithium and boron mining, rather than a one-year moratorium. In that period, the collection of signatures for a people’s initiative proposing the adoption of a law for a permanent ban on the exploitation of lithium and boron began. 38,000 signatures were collected and the initiative was submitted to the Serbian Parliament, but it has not been put on the agenda to this day.

If we look back at the legal and financial sphere, even then everything was not clear and simple, despite political statements or precisely because of them. For the government, which claimed that environmental protection protocols would be respected, it was important that the lithium and boron ore reserves near Loznica are 158 million tons, the calculated value of which is 56 billion dollars, with initial investments of 1.5 billion dollars. The Minister of Mining and Energy at the time, Zorana Mihajlović, stated that Serbia could cover 12 percent of the world’s lithium needs with that project, noting that the value of proven mineral values ​​in Serbia is more than two hundred billion euros.

Was that one of the reasons why President Vučić declared on the eve of the New Year that the “Jadar” project would not be withdrawn even though “some opposition politicians” requested it? Or perhaps it is what the director of the company “Rio Sava” Vesna Prodanović said, that the investment in “Jadar” is the subject of the Bilateral Agreement between Serbia and the United Kingdom from 2002, ratified in 2004, and that that document foresees internationally recognized investment protection mechanisms. Prodanović announced that “Rio Tinto” had allocated 450 million dollars for the development of the “Jadar” project until then, and that in July 2021 it had made a decision to allocate 2.4 billion dollars, provided that it receives the necessary permits and approvals.

Speaking about the protests due to the intention of the company “Rio Tinto” to exploit lithium in the Jadra valley, Vučić said that the company was brought to Serbia and those calling for the protests committed themselves to it through Great Britain. “Will you provide the billion euros we should pay for what they signed?” Or is it better to find a better way to solve the problem. It is important that there is a moratorium, no further activities of ‘Rio Tinta’. We will see what will happen next”, said the President of Serbia in the New Year edition of Večernje Novosti.

That “we’ll see” is just happening. “Rio Tinto” not only did not “bury” its plans, but the CEO of “Rio Tinto” Jakob Stausholm stated that the mining company did not give up on the lithium project “Jadar”, pointing to the reality that it is an incredible resource. That the world needs him. That Serbia needs him… “We have to figure out how to do it. The only thing I would say today is that we haven’t given up,” Stausholm said at a conference for investors in Sydney.

His statement comes at a time when the Government of Serbia is still in the mode of suspending this project, which it has stated on several occasions in recent months that it has been shut down, but also at the end of the “moratorium until the end of the year” that President Vučić spoke of, who today says that he still regrets that he made the decision for Serbia to abandon lithium mining and that because of that he “turned out to be the stupidest president in the world”. Commenting on the protest of environmental activists in front of the Serbian Government building, Vučić told TV Pink that the government did not make any decision, but that he decided everything himself.

“I don’t understand why they protested in front of the government.” When they protest, they should protest in front of the presidency and I will address them and tell them nicely – people, you are destroying the country. The price today is 82,500 dollars per ton of lithium, with these reserves it is 100 billion, because you understand what you are doing to Jadr, Osečina, Valjevo and the whole of Podrinje”, said Vučić and pointed out that Loznica would receive five billion euros from lithium mining and that was the best for the country, but that citizens believed in conspiracy theories, and that the protest leaders were “paid by foreign foundations”.

And Prime Minister Brnabić, who once said that the story of “Rio Tinto” has been put to an end, a few days ago she assessed that lithium is a huge opportunity for Serbia. “Before the discovery of oil, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe, and after that it was one of the richest. This is equivalent to that. I made the decision to suspend the ‘Jadar’ project because of political attacks on President Vučić and SNS before the elections, but I still think that it is the biggest development opportunity”, Brnabićeva pointed out, adding that she does not see the possibility of reviving the project.

Therefore, it was just a pre-election story, her opponents from the opposition will say, claiming that the new Minister of Mining and Energy, Dubravka Đedović, wants to bring back the “Jadar” project, which the citizens opposed with mass protests, with her statements. They conclude that from her announcements, immediately after the formation of the Government of Serbia, that Serbia will be an important source of rare minerals in the world in the coming period. In addition to gold, silver, copper, zinc, it is also rich in lithium and therefore, as announced, the state will continue to develop mining while respecting environmental protection standards.

Regarding lithium specifically, Minister Đedović said that Serbia is lucky to have reserves of a very important mineral necessary for renewable sources, which are the focus of the whole world. “I think that Serbia should consider how it can use that potential.” It is mine to look at, to consider, to see what has been done, what has not been done and why it has not been done. But all countries that have a natural resource and do not use it are at a loss,” said the minister and stated that there is no use of a natural resource that is not harmful to the environment, but that the only question is what measures will be taken to reduce the risks. minus. The Minister of Mining says that geological research is currently being carried out in Serbia on 178 exploration fields – among which copper, gold, lead, zinc and silver are the most represented.

For the profession, such investigative rights are questionable and debatable because, as Ratko Ristić, a professor at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Belgrade, often said, one should know that no company will invest hundreds of thousands and millions of euros because it loves Serbia, rather than to obtain exploitation rights. And these are mostly private mining companies that are interested in profit, not public interest. That is why, according to Professor Ristic, it is very important for Serbia that the Ministry of Mining and Energy starts to share exploration rights that are in the public interest, those that will strengthen the geological capacities of the country, primarily the Geological Survey of Serbia, whose experts used to do all the research, and now they are demoted.

Looking for an alternative

There are also new elements in the whole story, such as the search for alternative companies to “Rio Tintu”. German and Chinese companies have already been mentioned because both of them have the possibility to invest in a lithium battery factory and a plant for the production of electric cars that use such batteries in addition to the mine. Allegedly, the opening of the technological center of the American manufacturer of electric cars “Rivian” should confirm that the state will not agree to the mining of lithium and its export if factories for the production of batteries and electric cars are not opened here.

In such an atmosphere, a session of the Parliamentary Committee for Environmental Protection was scheduled for the end of November, but with bizarre twists and turns because the session took place simultaneously in two places. In the Parliament of Serbia, a meeting of the Committee was held, which was scheduled by the Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Environmental Protection, SNS MP Milimir Vujadinović, with the only agenda item on the use of lithium in Serbia, with reference to the impact on the environment and the overall economic development of the Republic of Serbia, as stated on the portal of the Parliament of Serbia.

At the same time, a meeting was held in Loznica, which was scheduled by the chairman of the Committee for Environmental Protection, Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta, who will state that on November 15, he properly scheduled a meeting of the Committee in Loznica for November 25, and that subsequently his deputy Vujadinović convened the meeting in an hour later in the building of the Serbian Parliament. The session in Belgrade was attended by ten members of the board, thus providing a quorum for work. The Minister of Environmental Protection Irena Vujović and the Minister of Mining and Energy Dubravka Đedović were also there, as well as the professors of the Faculty of Mining and Geology Dinko Knežević and Nikola Lilić.

It was at that meeting that Minister Đedović said that “the decree of the Government of Serbia for the ‘Jadar’ project was canceled before the Environmental Impact Assessment Studies, which were supposed to be available to the public and be the subject of public discussion, were completed.”
One should not be too perceptive and, based only on what has been said in relation to lithium in recent days, conclude that the “Rio Tinto” project is not dead but that it is slowly coming back because due to the lack of funds, our country is not able to conduct research on its own and that the work is generally left to foreigners. Concessions for the exploration of raw material deposits that Serbia approves last for a maximum of 30 years, after which the state, if something remains in the deposit, can exploit it itself.

And as for the prime minister’s reference to the example of Norway, we should repeat what Pechat already wrote on that topic. Unlike the oil-rich Arab countries, the Norwegians kept everything in their hands, sales above all. That is why many domestic skeptics believe that all this makes sense only if our country is the exclusive owner of that wealth. Since the prospects and quantities of jadarite deposits have a strategic importance for Serbia, the exploitation of the ore and its eventual finalization should not be left to foreigners, who, in that case, would take all the profit and leave us with crumbs and tailings wastelands, such as those near Bor. The Norwegian example speaks volumes about this – both in terms of profit and in terms of ecology, Standard writes.

Where will Europe source its lithium from?

Europe has set ambitious goals to electrify its transportation, with proposed legislation looking to ban all internal combustion engine cars by 2035. The region is behind only China when it comes to electric vehicle sales growth, and the hunt for raw materials to power the batteries these cars need is understandably picking up pace.

Europe currently produces very insignificant amounts of lithium to feed its own needs, and although demand is widely expected to go up, it’s still unclear where the region will find the lithium it requires. In 2032, Europe will make up 25 percent of lithium demand, but on the supply side it will contribute only 4 percent globally, according to Fastmarkets.

“There will be fierce competition for supply in markets such as Australia, Chile, Argentina and Africa,” analysts at the firm said. “Competition that suggests prices will remain high.”

Challenges for lithium miners in Europe

When looking at whether Europe could source lithium domestically, the reality of its geology becomes apparent.

There are very few lithium deposits available in Europe that are viable for mining, Allan Pedersen of Wood Mackenzie told the Investing News Network (INN). “This challenge will be supplemented by the fact that most countries in Europe have limited recent experience in mining, which can make government, environmental and social permitting challenging,” he added.

In Europe, lithium hard-rock mineral deposits are located in Portugal, Czechia, Finland, Germany, Spain and Austria. Significant brine resources also exist in Germany. At present, imports from Australia cover the majority of the EU’s demand for lithium concentrates, while Chile is by far the EU’s largest supplier of refined lithium compounds.

For Jack Bedder, there are several challenges that Europe faces in securing sufficient and stable lithium supply.

“(The) most apparent is the legislation and public opinion to mining that lithium projects must navigate to develop projects of the critical battery material,” the founder and director of Project Blue told INN. “Public and subsequently government opposition to Rio Tinto’s Jadar project in Serbia stalled development at one of Europe’s most advanced projects, a testament to challenges faced more broadly across European jurisdictions.”

Another hurdle is the development of lithium resources that are not yet commercially viable, such as geothermal brines.

“The prospect of lithium production from geothermal brines is an attractive one, as there are benefits to the environmental footprint and co-production of renewable energy which could be achieved,” Bedder said. “The required technologies and processes to commercially recover lithium from geothermal brines, however, remain under development, and further breakthroughs will be required to bring these projects into reality.”

It will also come as no surprise that junior miners in the region have been facing challenges in accessing sufficient financing.

“Competition from lithium projects globally, whether that be South American continental brine operations, Australian spodumene projects or African hard-rock projects, has made a difficult hunting ground for European projects,” Bedder said.

“Government-led investment in other regions has also supported project development for critical minerals, a practise in which the EU has lagged behind other major regions.”

Europe’s strategic partnerships with top-producing countries

Even though Europe doesn’t currently have domestic lithium sources that are able to meet its own demand, the region does have established supply chains — it imports lithium compounds and products from producers in South America in the form of both mineral- and brine-derived materials.

“Further cooperation with major producers in Australia, the Americas and Africa will be critical to feeding European demand growth, though the origin of materials will need to become more diversified to meet volume requirements,” Bedder told INN. “Companies in the US, China, Japan and South Korea are all building supply agreements with lithium producers globally, creating a ‘feedstock frenzy’ and an increasingly competitive global market.”

In Bedder’s opinion, Europe will remain reliant upon imported lithium products in the coming decade, though there is an opportunity for domestic supply to provide some support.

“Multiple projects in European nations are under development, though barriers and challenges must be overcome to progress their development both legislative and financially”, Bedder said.

Increased recycling of lithium-ion batteries to recover lithium, cobalt and nickel is a clear focus for the EU.

“Despite aggressive targets set by the European Commission, recycling in the EU will not provide significant volumes of lithium compounds before 2030,” Bedder added. For the expert, integration of the mining and refining stages of the lithium industry is growing, with many lithium spodumene concentrate producers targeting the production of lithium compounds and cathode intermediate products such as lithium sulfate and phosphate by 2030.

“This will place strain on existing third-party processors, particularly in the Chinese market, which are heavily reliant upon spodumene feedstock from Australia,” he said. “Closer partnerships between resource owners and cathode/battery cell manufacturers are expected as the distance between them in the supply chain shrinks.”

Where can Europe win when it comes to lithium?

Increasing domestic lithium mining may prove difficult, but Europe can still further strengthen its lithium supply chain.

“As Europe will continue to rely on imported feedstocks, the capability to process these compounds into ‘battery-grade’ products suitable for the burgeoning cathode and lithium-ion battery market in Europe will be critical”, Bedder said. “This sector is expected to see significant growth in the coming decade, though strong competition from similar processors in Asia remains.”

The expert added that Europe’s ability to “win” the battle for lithium self-sufficiency remains hinged on technological breakthroughs, along with the creation of a supporting framework in which new mining and processing facilities can operate in a globally competitive industry. For his part, Pedersen believes the largest opportunity for Europe in the short term is in the re-processing of technical-grade or intermediate material imported from other countries.

Wood Mackenzie is forecasting significant new supply in the coming years, with a large proportion being technical grade; this will make raw material available for further processing in Europe.

“However, what needs to be considered is where your customers are in that period”, Pedersen said. “While cathode production is increasing in Europe, the majority is still produced in Asia, so the lithium chemical produced might have to be transported to Asia”, Investing News writes.

Serbia, Rio Tinto have not given up on the Jadar project

The CEO of Rio Tinto Ltd., Jacob Stausholm, said that the company has not given up on the “Jadar” lithium project in Serbia, TV N1 reported today.

Reuters reported that Stausholm said at a briefing for investors in Sydney that “Jadar” represents “unbelievable value”, he said.

Reuters recalls that Rio Tinto announced in July that it was “exploring all options” regarding the Jadar project when it comes to local community concerns.

The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, recently stated that she does not see the possibility of the “Jadar” project being revived, but that she still regrets it, because, according to her, it was a historic opportunity for the development of Serbia.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said last night on RTS that he likes to talk about lithium, “that it is terribly important and that we made a terrible mistake by stopping the ‘Jadar’ project.”

Although, at least officially, mining of lithium has been abandoned, according to the Handelsblat daily, Serbia is one of those countries that, according to Germany’s plan, should be encouraged to exploit lithium in order to strengthen European battery production and reduce dependence on China.

It is, as stated, a secret document that Berlin submitted to the European Commission (EC) which lists 20 specific proposals and projects that should start the EU’s “Global Gateway” initiative from the deadlock in response to the Chinese project. Belt and Road” and infrastructure investments.

Not a single lithium mine has yet been opened in the EU, although it is planned that the EU will reach zero carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution by 2050, and that tens of millions of electric cars will be driven by 2030.

There are projects that are in the development phase. Lithium is extracted only in Portugal, but for the needs of ceramics, while the opening of a large mine, like the one planned in Serbia, is still awaited. The reasons are expected, namely the negative impact of the mine on the environment.

The Barroso project in Portugal was supposed to be the first large-scale lithium mine in the EU, but the opening has been delayed several times, sometimes indefinitely.

In 2021, the first temporary permit was issued after a preliminary environmental impact report. However, it stopped there, because water pollution, energy consumption, steps after digging and crushing were not solved. In addition, the mine is strongly opposed by the local population and environmental associations.

Optimists believe that the mine could start working in 2023, since at the beginning of this year the government of Portugal approved it in principle, however, the municipalities where the mines should be opened announced the initiation of the procedure for the ban on mining.

It was originally announced that 10 percent of the world’s reserves were located there, but until today the projection was reduced to one percent. The estimated capacity is 27 million metric tons, and the company that wants to mine in Portugal is Savannah resources.

While the uncertainty continues, the Portuguese government has announced that they will not be in a hurry to grant permits.

Several more lithium mines are planned in the EU, and the best-known example is in Germany, where a project is underway where lithium would be obtained with the help of geothermal energy for the extraction of lithium-rich salt water from the Upper Rhine. The final product lithium hydroxide would then be obtained by electrolysis. That lithium should have a zero point of carbon pollution, however in Germany they want to avoid water pollution as well.

The entire project was conceived as an isolated system where the water would be completely purified, and only then released. This is a new approach with obtaining lithium from water, according to the first estimates it pollutes the environment far less than mines.

Research is underway, started in 2021, and this year the State Institute for Geology and Mining determined that the impact of the planned wells on the environment, taking into account their size, scope and intensity of action, cannot be assessed as significant. If everything goes according to plan, the beginning of commercial exploitation is possible from 2025.

The French company Imeris has announced that in 2028 it will start mining a lithium deposit in the Central Massif, which should last 25 years. Since the second half of the 19th century, the site has been home to a quarry that produces 30,000 metric tons of kaolin per year for tile production.

This company states that with 34,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, they would enable around 700,000 electric vehicles to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

The “Cinovec” project, implemented by European Metals Holding, is 100 kilometers from Prague in the Czech Republic. It aims to produce nearly 30,000 metric tons of lithium for batteries annually over a period of 25 years.

According to the 2022 feasibility study of European Metals, “Cinovec” has the potential to become the cheapest lithium rock producer in the world. The ore could produce at $5,000 to $6,000 per metric ton.

It is not yet known whether that will happen, just as it is not known when the mine could start operating. “Cinovec” is, they say, the fourth largest deposit without salt water in the world. With the completion of the investment in April 2020, the project started the work program, but not the production.

An updated Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) for the project was completed in June 2019 when the Final Feasibility Study was initiated but not yet complete. This mine is located close to companies that make cars, but also to Tesla’s giga battery factory.

European Lithium is developing the Wolfsberg project in Carinthia, 270 kilometers south of Vienna. This mine project plans to mine 10,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year.

According to the company, this will equip the batteries of around 200,000 electric vehicles. They hope to achieve an operating rate of 800,000 metric tons per year with a mine life of over 10 years. The company expects to start production in 2025.

Finnish mining and battery chemicals company Keliber is currently running a project in western Finland with the goal of reaching production of 15,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, starting in 2025. The company also strives for sustainable production.

The lithium they plan to extract will, they say, have a smaller carbon footprint than the competition. This is because the refinery is located 70 kilometers from the mine. More than half of the electricity in the Finnish national grid is produced from renewable energy sources. As a result, the refining process will be more environmentally friendly.

In addition to the above, there are several other projects in Europe that are in the development phase. The presence of lithium in several other locations is also being investigated in Serbia.

As things currently stand, more serious lithium production in Europe, that is, the European Union, will not begin before 2025.

The pressure of industries and large capital will certainly increase, and the rise in the price of lithium, which is expected to increase several times over the next decade, is also certain.

Whether the EU will succeed in reconciling mining projects with environmental standards or whether it will enter the green transition with potential devastation on its own or surrounding soil, will be seen soon. The EU certainly needs supply chains that are closer to the continent, but also non-Chinese supply.

The European Green Deal of 2020 indicated that some environmental standards would be lowered, while the RipoverEU plan, published after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, further prioritized the switch to renewables as part of efforts to rapidly reduce use of Russian fossil fuels, Beta writes.

Serbia is one of those countries that should be encouraged to exploit lithium

Although Serbia has at least officially abandoned lithium mining, according to the Handelsblat daily, our country is one of those countries that, according to Germany’s plan, should be encouraged to exploit lithium, in order to strengthen European battery production and reduce dependence on China.

It is in question, according to a secret document submitted by Berlin to the European Commission, which lists 20 specific proposals and projects that should start the EU’s “Global Gateway” initiative from a deadlock in response to China’s “Belt and Road” project and infrastructure investments.

And how are things in the European Union when it comes to lithium mines?

Although it is planned to reach zero carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution by 2050, and tens of millions of electric cars will be on the streets by 2030, not a single lithium mine has yet been opened in the European Union. Instead, there are projects that are in the development phase. More precisely, lithium is extracted only in Portugal, but for the needs of ceramics, while the opening of a large mine like the one planned in Serbia is still awaited.

The reasons are expected, namely the negative impact of the mine on the environment.

Barroso Project, Portugal

The Barroso project in Portugal was supposed to be the first large-scale lithium mine in the European Union. It is not known whether it will actually happen. The opening, which was planned several times, was postponed, sometimes for a certain time, and sometimes for an indefinite time.

In 2021, the first temporary permit was obtained after the preliminary environmental impact report. However, it stopped there, because water pollution, energy consumption, steps after digging and crushing were not solved. In addition, the mine is strongly opposed by the local population and environmental associations. Similar to what was seen in Serbia.

However, optimists when it comes to the opening of the mine believe that it could start operating in 2023, since the government gave the “green light” at the beginning of this year. However, the municipalities where the mines are to be opened have announced the initiation of the procedure to ban mining.

It was originally announced that 10 percent of the world’s reserves were located there, but until today the projection was reduced to one percent. The estimated capacity is 27 million metric tons, and the company that wants to mine in Portugal is Savannah resources.

While there is uncertainty about this mine, the Portuguese government has announced that they will not be in a hurry to grant permits for further research when it comes to lithium.

Apart from Portugal, several more lithium mines are planned in the European Union.

Vulcan Project, Germany

After Portugal, about which there is the most data, perhaps the most famous example is in Germany, where work is being done on a project where lithium would be obtained with the help of geothermal energy for the extraction of lithium-rich salt water from the Upper Rhine. The final product lithium hydroxide would then be obtained by electrolysis. That lithium should have a zero point of carbon pollution, however in Germany they want to avoid water pollution as well.

The entire project was conceived as an isolated system where the water would be completely purified and only then released. This is a new approach with obtaining lithium from water, according to the first estimates it pollutes the environment far less than mines.

Research is underway, started in 2021, and this year the State Institute for Geology and Mining determined that the impact of the planned wells on the environment, taking into account their size, scope and intensity of action, cannot be assessed as significant. If everything goes according to plan, the beginning of commercial exploitation is possible from 2025.

The Emily Project, France

The French company Imeris has announced that in 2028 it will start mining a lithium deposit in the Central Massif, which should last 25 years. Since the second half of the 19th century, the site has been home to a quarry that produces 30,000 metric tons of kaolin per year for tile production.

This company states that with 34,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, they would enable around 700,000 electric vehicles to be equipped with lithium ion batteries.

Cinovec, Czech Republic

The Cinovec project, located 100 km from Prague in the Czech Republic, is being implemented by European Metals Holding. It aims to produce nearly 30,000 metric tons of lithium for batteries annually over a period of 25 years.

According to a 2022 feasibility study by European Metals, Cinovec has the potential to become the cheapest lithium rock producer in the world. The ore could produce at $5,000 to $6,000 per metric ton.

It is not yet known whether that will happen, just as it is not known when the mine could start operating. According to their statement, Sinovec is the fourth largest deposit without salt water in the world. With the completion of the investment in April 2020, the project started the work program, but not the production.

An updated Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) for the project was completed in June 2019 when the Final Feasibility Study was initiated but not yet complete. This mine is located close to companies that make cars, but also to Tesla’s giga battery factory.

Wolfsberg Project, Austria

European Lithium is developing the Wolfsberg project in Carinthia, 270 km south of Vienna. This mine project plans to mine 10,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year.

According to the company, this will equip the batteries of around 200,000 electric vehicles. They hope to achieve an operating rate of 800,000 metric tons per year with a mine life of over 10 years. The company expects to start production in 2025.

Project Keliber, Finland

Finnish mining and battery chemicals company Keliber is currently running a project in western Finland with the goal of reaching production of 15,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year starting in 2025. The company also strives for sustainable production.

The lithium they plan to extract will, they say, have a smaller carbon footprint than the competition. This is because the refinery is located 70 km from the mine. More than half of the electricity in the Finnish national grid is produced from renewable energy sources. As a result, the refining process will be more environmentally friendly.

In addition to the above, there are several other projects in Europe that are in the development phase. Also in Serbia, the presence of lithium is being investigated at several other deposits.

As things currently stand, more serious production of lithium in Europe or the European Union will not begin before 2025, when the first shortages of this ore are already being overlooked.

The pressure of industries and large capital will certainly increase, and the rise in the price of lithium, which is expected to increase several times over the next decade, is also certain.

Whether the European Union will succeed in reconciling mining projects with environmental standards or whether it will enter the green transition with potential devastation on its own or surrounding soil, will be seen soon. The European Union certainly needs supply chains that are closer to the Continent, but also, as you can see, supply that is not Chinese.

The European Green Deal from 2020 indicated that some standards regarding environmental protection will be lowered, while the RipauerEU plan ( REPowerEU ), published after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the European Commission additionally prioritized switching to renewable sources as part of efforts to the use of Russian fossil fuels is rapidly reduced.

In any case, we will look at the mix of political, economic and environmental interests with the hope that it is possible to achieve sustainability, N1 writes.

Serbia, The ban on lithium has not even been passed

Public controversy surrounding lithium in Serbia has been going on for years. The current government, representing the interests of the Rio Tinto company, has been convincing the citizens of Serbia for years that lithium is a historic development opportunity, comparing Serbia to El Dorado?! The question arises, why does the state avoid mentioning the negative sides of Rio Tinto?

Under the pressure of the December protests in 2021, and the blocking of the highway at the Gazela bridge, the state “officially” withdrew from all projects related to lithium mining in Serbia, and thus supposedly put an end to the topic. Is this the end of the Rio Tinto saga? It’s not. Today, we have daily situations where officials are preparing the ground for the return of the opening of lithium mines, both by Rio Tinto and other companies, such as Ultra Lithium and Eurolithium. This is just the beginning. It is time to analyze this problem according to the following points:

1. The facts

Although insider information from the company Rio Tinto and the Government of the Republic of Serbia claimed that the ban on lithium was not true, but only to buy time before the elections, the citizens, like the protest organizers themselves, believed the representatives of the authorities and withdrew from the protests and blockades because they respected their word. . What happened in the meantime?

2. Privatization of the Jaroslav Cherny Institute

In order to justify their project, Rio Tinto employees often refer to a positive opinion from the compromised Jaroslav Černi Institute (the only institute dealing with water in Serbia), which, under the pressure of the state, after 74 years, was privatized for only 2.5 million euros by the Millennium Team, even though the Anti-Corruption Council demanded that the privatization be overturned. The question arises why the state does not listen to what the Council for the fight against corruption says? What is the point of the existence of this Council if their conclusions are not acted upon? Is it corruption in action by the state? Obviously it is!

Černi (allegedly under political pressure) gave positive opinions for all ecologically debatable projects in Serbia (Makiško polje, Belgrade na vodi, Rio Tinto, Rekovac/Levač…) and now it is in the hands of the Millennium team, a company that is allegedly close to the government. There is a justified danger that in the future the Millennium Team will control to whom Jaroslav Cerny will give positive opinions, which will depend on the permits for all future projects in Serbia.

3. Does the affair with lithium mines end with Rio Tinto? By no means! This is just the beginning

In addition to the Jadra valley (Loznica) where Rio Tinto is planning its excavations, the company Eurolithium in Rekovac (Levač) continues to bring in heavy machinery that is already ready for excavation. Citizens revolted and organized round-the-clock vigils to prevent the excavations until the police wanted to interfere, even though they were supposed to act and prevent further work by the Eurolithium company. The works have stopped and will not continue because the company Eurolithium, as well as Rio Tinto, do not want to risk a physical confrontation with the local population, which would motivate the people to rebel, which would make their further business much more difficult.

Lithium mines are planned at 40-60 locations throughout Serbia, in the Loznica-Vranje-Bor triangle. Over two million of our citizens live in that territory, where many of them will have to move out of their homes, while others will have their living environment (land, water) threatened. Other lithium mining companies are on standby, waiting to see how the currently resigned Rio Tinto fares. If Rio Tinto goes ahead with its plans, the other 59 sites will be wide open for lithium mining.

For example, the company Ultra Lithium received seven exploration permits in the Republic of Serbia – through its local subsidiary, Ultra Balkans doo – for the mines Valjevo, Kragujevac, Blace, Koceljeva, Trnava, Istok, Preljina and Ladevci from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry mining. Application permits for research cover a total area of ​​676.54 km 2.

The Government of the Republic of Serbia claims that only Serbia has lithium deposits, which, of course, is not true. Lithium is also found in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina , North Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Turkey. The fact that someone drew the borders does not mean that lithium, which has been under the ground for thousands of years, “moved” to Serbia. Also, lithium can be found in many EU countries, while it is most abundant in Germany (three times more than in Serbia).which does not think of allowing companies like Rio Tinto to open mines in their territory. The question arises why the mentioned countries are not in the same lithium fever for the opening of a lithium mine that should bring them tens of billions of euros in profit? Are those countries greedy for money or is it in their national interest to preserve their natural resources and prevent the destruction of their country?

The issue of lithium is neither a political nor an economic issue, this has become a matter of life and death, on which the future of us and our children depends. I don’t care if the lithium companies are from the east or the west! No company that does not respect EU environmental standards and that is not allowed to mine and process lithium on the territory of the European Union, cannot work on the territory of the Republic of Serbia either! Point.

4. How does Rio Tinto work?

Rio Tinto is a corporation with a value of 60 billion euros that is used to using all possible means to achieve its goals. This summer, the Chinese became the single largest shareholder of Rio Tinto.

The company Rio Tinto (Rio Sava) has hired people in charge of constantly observing, monitoring and recording everything negative that appears about the company in public. Their PR teams are constantly on the alert to immediately respond to every statement in the media with a denial, forcing the media to publish their statements that are more political marketing ploy than they have anything to do with the truth. Until now, my articles about Rio Tinto have been regularly tried to be refuted, stating falsehoods and claiming the opposite without any evidence. Calls to organize a TV duel where we will present our arguments are still regularly ignored.

When they deny, they always accuse by name anyone who criticizes Rio Tinto’s way of doing business, telling falsehoods that they are a socially responsible company that prioritizes the environment, which so far has not been demonstrated in any of their lithium mines around the world. Discrediting the opponent is their priority, although until now they have not realized that by doing so they are only promoting the opposite side, harming themselves. No company in Serbia has become as hated as Rio Tinto. Citizens are becoming more and more aware of the consequences, although the state media is trying to confuse citizens through broadcasts, claiming that lithium is not as dangerous as claimed, although there is not a single lithium mine in the world that meets environmental standards. The legal representative of Rio Tinto (Rio Sava) Colin McKay is in the latest issue of NIN (December 8, 2022),THE GOVERNMENT OF SERBIA NEVER MADE A DECISION ON THE LITHIUM MINING BAN THAT WOULD APPLY TO RIO TINTO!”And what are we going to do now? Is this proof that the Government of the Republic of Serbia lied to its citizens? Of course it is.

Rio Tinto is used to doing business in corrupt countries like Serbia, paying politicians to lobby for their company (which could be seen in the media in previous years). At one time, Rio Tinto announced that it was ready to talk to the leaders of the opposition in order to explain to them that lithium would not endanger the environment. Although it seems to me that they are indirectly offering a bribe in this way, trying to convince the leaders of the opposition not to oppose the opening of the lithium mine. For persuasion, they increasingly use EU and US officials who, in talks with opposition leaders, set conditions that the Rio Tinto project should not be hindered.

The coming period will show which political organizations will reconcile in public appearances and protests against Rio Tinto, as well as which organizations have not signed the Social Agreement. So far, the political organizations that do not want to commit in writing that they will be against Rio Tinto and lithium are Nebojša Zelenović (Coalition Moramo), who became famous with a video from Brussels where he claimed that they are looking for a solution for Rio Tinto with the EU Greens, as well as We are not strangling Belgrade, which has repeatedly refused to sign the Social Agreement. Insider information from several parties claims that both political organizations have received orders from Brussels that they must not sign the Social Agreement. It is not clear to anyone which organization can claim to be against Rio Tinto, while at the same time refusing to officially sign it. Any political organization that refuses to sign the Social Agreement cannot be considered an opponent of Rio Tinto and the lithium mine, but only their ally.

Rio Tinto has its own list containing the names of all the people who speak negatively about the company and who are against lithium mining, who are on their measures, whose social media accounts are monitored daily. Since we have mostly listened to inept explanations from Rio Tinto representatives, it is necessary to get answers from the authorities to the following questions:

5. Processing of lithium

We all already know the consequences of lithium processing around the world, regardless of whether the lithium is mined, from salt rocks or from geothermal sources. In the world, one ton of lithium requires over 1000 tons/cubic of water mixed with sulfuric acid, which after processing becomes poisoned and can no longer be used. Such water ends up in the soil, streams and rivers, which permanently destroys the environment and endangers the health of citizens. Only the planned lithium mine in Loznica is estimated to contain 148 million tons of lithium, while Rio Tinto will consume over 1,000 tons of sulfuric acid per day, which will eventually have to end somewhere. Rio Tinto had previously inquired about the abandoned Viscose factory in Loznica, where they wanted to use their discharge pipes to discharge their poisoned waste water directly into the Drina. And that’s not all.

In addition to the sulfuric acid used for lithium processing, the citizens do not know that 15,000 cyanide tanks will be used in Loznica alone (as explained by the vice-chancellor of Belgrade University Prof. Dr. Ratko Ristić). And mines are planned in 40-60 locations! If only one tank were to spill, it would be an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions. This is precisely why no EU country will allow Rio Tinto to process lithium and destroy the environment on its territory. The citizens of Serbia, in contrast to the state leadership, refuse to be a dumping ground for the EU, where fertile land will be destroyed and streams, rivers and lakes will be poisoned, where the population will be forcibly relocated in order to provide lithium batteries for the EU market.

The representatives of the Rio Tinto company claim in their denials that all of this is not true and that their new technologies will not destroy the environment. The problem is that these new technologies do not want to show, justifying it as a trade secret, with the oft-repeated phrase “take our word for it”! Rio Tinto has no answer as to why they have not opened lithium mines in the EU with these “new technologies” while at the same time they are convincing the citizens of Serbia to allow them to open lithium mines in Serbia. Until Rio Tinto opens its lithium mines in Germany (which has three times more lithium than Serbia), there is no logic in opening them in Serbia either.

6. Confrontations

In order to clarify the dangers of lithium processing, I have repeatedly sought media confrontations with Rio Tinto management. Director Rio Tinto has repeatedly refused to be a guest on shows (like “Impression of the Week”), because she didn’t like the interviewees!? Is it logical that the director of Rio Tinto, who is accused of destroying the environment, sets the conditions with whom she will exchange opinions. She’d probably like to be a guest on a show with some of the experts on Rio Tinto’s payroll and choose the questions to ask her.

Rio Tinto “became famous” with a video advertised on the media, where the company misled the public that they were producing green energy. Even the ambassadors of certain countries claimed that lithium is green energy, probably not knowing what the lithium processing procedure looks like in which sulfuric acid and cyanide are used. Such a video caused a counter effect, provoking the anger of the people who rioted and blocked the highway near the Gazelle Bridge. Realizing their mistake, Rio Tinto employees were ordered to mediate truce and not expose themselves until the dust settled. That truce still holds while the project continues to be carried out quietly away from the public eye.

7. How to solve the problem called Rio Tinto?

All employees of the company Rio Tinto (Rio Sava) should know that they are accomplices because they are well aware of the consequences of poisoning water and fertile soil, as well as that they will be held criminally responsible together with the management. They are paid to misinform the public, to shoot commercials where they try to present themselves as an environmentally conscientious company, even though they have been leaving devastation behind for decades all over the world. In some countries, civil war broke out because of their business, where over 10,000 people lost their lives, while children who bathe in rivers poisoned by Rio Tinto have living wounds.

In order to check whether the company Rio Tinto, despite the “ban” of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, continues its work in violation of the laws, as an environmental protection analyst, I propose the following solutions:

8. Conclusion

The problem is that nobody is accountable in corrupt Serbia, so the people on Rio Tinto’s payroll relaxed, thinking that they will not suffer any consequences because they “cooperate” with the state. It is time for them to be warned that they are accomplices who will be held accountable for their actions. If they are ready to live and work under such pressure, because this kind of crime does not get old – good luck to them, they will need it.

So far, I have not met a single person who supports the Rio Tinto project, except for the company’s employees (who are financially dependent), although many of them do not support, but work there because their existence depends on it. Many Rio Tinto employees have already resigned (both out of conscience and public pressure), while a large number of employees are actively looking for new jobs in other companies in order to “clean up” and escape in time.

The state has reconciled and defends itself to every question about Rio Tinto by saying that it is officially forbidden to work with lithium. The fact that the state tacitly approves the continuation of the activities of Rio Tinto and other companies, avoiding to react, means that this government is deliberately deceiving its citizens. My assessment is that it will remain so until the April elections in Belgrade, because the government does not want to risk a new blocking of the Gazelle, a rebellion of the people that will cause them to lose power in Belgrade. Even though it is a local election, Rio Tinto is one of the few topics that can bring citizens of Belgrade to the streets.

I am personally convinced that the state will not give up its intention to push through the lithium mines, and knowing that citizens will not give up defending their lives and the lives of their children, I am afraid that incidents and physical conflicts will escalate in the future. That’s why I ask the question, does someone have to die in order to prevent the lithium farce? Are we facing a civil war like the one in Papua New Guinea where over 10,000 people lost their lives due to a lithium mine that poisoned all drinking water sources? How many people need to lose their lives for someone from the government to say enough is enough, we don’t want a civil war, Energija Balkana writes.

Serbia will not allow the exploitation of lithium just to export it to other countries

If lithium is exploited in Serbia, the condition of the Government of Serbia will be the construction of a battery factory and an electric car factory, the research and publishing center Demostat writes today, referring to its sources.

“Serbia will not allow the exploitation of lithium just to export it to other countries. There are no guarantees that it will give up cooperation with Rio Tinto, but the possibility is open that the country will find a new partner whose reputation is not damaged, as in the case of the British-Australian corporation that has faced several accusations of destroying the environment on a global level”, said the center.

Before the project comes to life, according to Demostat, the company that will work on it will have to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment Study, which should show relevant data collected by credible institutions on environmental impact assessment in the Jadra Valley and beyond.

“The state never gave up lithium mining, but stopped the project because of the April elections. Now the public is slowly preparing for the revival of the ore mining project in the fertile region of western Serbia, against which a large number of citizens rose up at the end of last year”, it added. in the text.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there has been interest from American companies that produce batteries and electric cars to invest in Serbia, and one of them is Rivian, a manufacturer of electric adventure vehicles, which announced in September that it would open a research and development center in Belgrade.

Demostat sources point out that this is the main condition of the state to enter the lithium exploitation project, and as they state, the state will not agree to a contract that would mean that lithium is mined in Serbia and then exported to be further processed in another country.

“Serbia will ask for the opening of factories for the production of batteries and electric cars”, writes Demostat.

As stated in the text, if it is not Rio Tinto, there are interested companies from China and Germany, which could offer to close the entire production circle.

“This means that both of them have the possibility to invest in a lithium battery factory and a plant for the production of electric cars that use such batteries in addition to the mine”, Demostat adds, Beta writes.

Finland, Sibanye-Stillwater approved €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project

Precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW) approved on Monday a €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project in Finland.

The South African miner said its board-approved capital expenditure program would start with construction of a lithium hydroxide refinery within Finland’s Kokkola industrial park. The area hosts a logistics hub from where the company plans to feed into the European battery sector.

With the operation, Sibanye-Stillwater aims to be the first fully-integrated lithium producer in Europe, targeting first production in 2024.

It will then ramp up to produce around 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, enough for 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs).

The miner owns about 85% of Finnish battery chemical maker Keliber, which in turn owns the namesake lithium project.

“We are delighted to advance and grow our presence in the European battery metals industry through Keliber,” chief executive Neal Froneman said in the statement.

He noted the mine, which will mainly supply the European market, is forecast to have the lowest carbon emission footprints in the industry.

Sibanye plans to underwrite a €104 million ($109m) capital increase by Keliber by the end of January while at least €250 million ($261m) will be be borrowed to fund construction of the project.

Construction of the Päiväneva concentrator and the initial two open pit mines — Syväjärvi and the flagship Rapasaari — will commence once all the environmental permits are received.

The Syväjärvi mine is fully permitted, while the environmental permits at the Rapasaari mine and the Päiväneva concentrator are currently outstanding, Sibanye said.

Eyeing battery metals

The company, one of the world’s largest producers of platinum and palladium, also recently acquired other lithium and nickel assets in the US and Europe. With prices for those and other battery metals ballooning over the past year, mergers and acquisitions in the sector are less appealing at the moment, Froneman has said.

The proposed Keliber lithium mine consists of several advanced stage lithium spodumene deposits with 9.3 million tonnes of ore reserves and it contemplates the construction of a chemical plant near the port of Kokkola.

Once in operations, output is expected to reach 15,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide a year during its mine-life.

Europe has a limited number of lithium mining and refinery projects under development, many of which are yet to secure financing or environmental permits, Mining writes.

Resource Mining Corporation acquires highly prospective nickel and lithium tenements in Finland

“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders”, said executive chair Asimwe Kabunga.

Resource Mining Corporation Ltd (ASX:RMI) has executed a binding term sheet to acquire Element92 Pte Ltd, the owner of three projects in Finland: the Ruossakero Nickel Project in Northern Finland, the Kola Lithium Project in Central Finland, and the Hirvikallio Lithium Project in Southern Finland.

The company completed extensive due diligence activities on the target projects, including acquiring a large volume of historical data on the projects and the commissioning of an external review by Skapto.

Resource Mining Corporation’s executive chair and consultants then confirmed the review’s findings with a site visit that generated new prospective lithium targets on the tenure.

RMI negotiated all-scrip acquisition terms to the tune of 40 million RMI shares at $0.10 per share. The agreement is now subject to execution of formal documentation.

Search begins for strategic partners

“We are excited to have secured agreement to acquire this portfolio of highly prospective nickel and lithium projects in Finland following an extensive due diligence process”, Resource Mining Corporation executive chair Asimwe Kabunga said.

“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders.”

The projects sit near other companies’ lithium projects, and are host to historical mines and known lithium pegmatite occurrences, giving RMI confidence in the tenements’ prospectivity, Proactive Investors reports.