Presidential candidate Biljana Stojković of the Moramo coalition and the Assembly of Free Serbia, Bojana Novaković of the environmental network Marš sa Drine and Marijana Petković of the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia said they learned that Rio Tinto had bought a drill for the well of the lithium extraction project in the Jadar region and that it should be delivered in April.
Environmentalists quoted an unnamed source who they say got the information from associate professor Saša Stojadinović of Bor Technical Faculty during a telephone conversation that Rio Tinto’s Serbian subsidiary Rio Sava ordered a machine to drill the mining shaft for its lithium mining project in the Jadar Valley. in the west of the country.
Biljana Stojković, candidate for the presidency of the We Must (Moramo) coalition and the Assembly of Free Serbia (SSS), Bojana Novaković of the Marš sa Drine initiative and Marijana Petković of the Association of Environmental Organizations of Serbia ( SEOS) released an audio recording of a conversation, in which they claim it was said that the equipment is supposed to be delivered by an Austrian company and a German company. They said they did not name the individual whose tape they obtained for security reasons.
In an emotional address at a press conference in Belgrade, activists stressed that the Serbian authorities still support Rio Tinto even though the project was officially stopped in January. They called on voters not to support President Aleksandar Vučić and the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), warning that otherwise the project would be resumed after the April 3 elections.
The Jadar area is part of the administrative area of the town of Loznica.
Another tape will be released tomorrow
Biljana Stojković of the leftist green list We Must and the political activist group Assembly of Free Serbia (Skupština slobodne Srbije) said the tape was recorded on March 26 and they would release another one tomorrow. The machine is expected to be delivered to the Jadar site in April, she said. The person on the recording whom the activists identified as Professor Saša Stojadinović says it is “highly probable”.
“This wouldn’t happen if the government hadn’t reached an agreement with Rio Sava,” stressed Biljana Stojković. The aforementioned person says on the tape that the faculty would “probably help” bring the equipment documentation into line with Serbian regulations and that the faculty has signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Stojković: We see that citizens are deceived, all citizens who demonstrated in the streets, who blocked roads precisely because of environmental pollution, mining around Serbia which is completely out of control
“Too bad for the cancellation of the Rio Tinto project. Not only is it not canceled, but the project is still ongoing, but out of public view. But we have proof that it is happening and that state institutions are involved. It is therefore a decoy. The citizens have been fooled. The whole story was only put aside until the end of the presidential, parliamentary and Belgrade elections, and then the intention is to continue everything as before. So we see that the citizens are deceived, all the citizens who demonstrated in the streets, who blocked the roads exactly because of the pollution of the environment, of the mining around Serbia which is completely out of control said Stojković.
She called on voters to choose anyone except Vučić and SNS. Biljana Stojković claimed that the machine in question is very expensive and can drill a vertical well 12 meters in diameter and 150 meters deep.
Campaign based on lies
“The ruling party’s campaign is based on a lie that Rio Tinto has left this country… If we vote for the ruling party, we are voting for treason, sellout and colonization,” said Bojana Novaković. She noted that there is no legal basis for carrying out such work and that there is no environmental impact study.
Novaković later told Balkan Green Energy News that by all indications German companies Thyssen Schachtbau (TS Gruppe) and DMT had been hired for the job and that Herrenknecht, also from Germany, would supply the equipment.
Rio Sava is still buying land, there is massive deforestation
Marijana Petković of SEOS, who lives in Gornje Nedeljice, the village most affected by the project, said activists knew from tracking sales tax payments that Rio Sava was still buying land there. Employees at the local land registry office have been instructed not to book the transaction but to shelve it for now, she claimed.
A mines inspector visited the area twice recently with company officials, she said. Petković claims that 160 hectares have been purchased so far out of the 254 hectares needed in total. She accused Rio Sava of blackmailing the remaining residents into selling their land and added that massive deforestation was taking place.
SEOS and residents demanded that the land be returned to its original condition and the damage assessed, but there was no response.
There are still 528 boreholes in the area and it is clear that leaks are damaging the concrete around them and destroying crops, Petković pointed out. She pointed out that activists and local people are demanding that the land be returned to its original state, that all location licenses be revoked, that they assess the damage and convert the land now designated for construction back to agricultural and forest land, but there is no answer.
“The story is completely different on the ground from what is said on television. Not a single member of the municipal administration of Loznica, from the mayor to others, has signed the civic initiative for the ban from the search and extraction of lithium and borate, which confirms enough for us that they are waiting under a rock,” Petković mentioned.
Kreni-promeni needs 3,000 more signatures for lithium ban initiative
The popular initiative, a new mechanism in the Serbian legal system, was launched by the Kreni-promeni campaign. Its activists are trying to obtain 30,000 signatures for the national parliament to vote on the proposal to ban all research and mining of lithium and borate. The group said today that there are only two days left and that they have won the support of 27,000 citizens.
Kreni-promeni has spearheaded some of the massive protests in Serbia against Rio Tinto’s Jadar project for a lithium mine and processing plant, in conjunction with SEOS and other environmental organizations.
“We strongly believed, and I think the citizens showed that on the streets, that democracy in Serbia is not for sale, that the rule of law is not for sale, that Serbia is not for sale”, said in Brussels its director Savo Manojlović. last week at the 13th meeting of the EU-Serbia Joint Civil Society Advisory Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee.
It should be noted that the Ministry of Environmental Protection officially canceled in mid-February the procedure for evaluating the environmental impact study of the Jadar lithium project, according to a recently released document. According to the ruling, Rio Sava initiated the cancellation.