The CEO of Rio Tinto’s local branch in Serbia said on Thursday that the company plans to put the Jadar lithium mine project on hold but N1 has been told that the company is continuing its pressure on farmers to sell their land.
Rio Sava Exploration CEO Vesna Prodanovic told the Beta news agency that the plan is to pause the Jadar project and call for a public dialogue. Rio Tinto’s plans to open a lithium mine in western Serbia has drawn protests both in the Loznica area along the border with Bosnia and across Serbia with environmental organizations organizing road-block protests on Saturdays, calling for the authorities to throw Rio Tinto out of Serbia.
Local land owners in the Loznica area told N1 that they have been receiving text messages listing the plots of land that they own and asking them if they want to consider selling. N1 was granted access to some of the text messages which include the registry numbers of plots of land.
Prodanovic said that the land purchases are a necessary condition for permits. “That process was conducted with regular and frequent consultations with the owners of the land, taking into consideration their suggestions and needs,” she said. She said that sale of land is voluntary and in line with Serbian law as well as International Financial Corporation standards which define fair compensation and improved living conditions for the people who have to relocate. “None of the households in the area have explicitly refused the offer which is sent only at the request of the owner and talks are underway with just a few households,” she said.