Serbia revoked Rio Tinto’s lithium exploration licenses on Thursday, bowing to protesters who opposed the development of the project by the Anglo-Australian mining giant on environmental grounds.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the government’s decision came after requests by various green groups to halt the$2.4 billion Jadar lithium project which, if completed, would help make Rio a top 10 lithium producer.
“All decisions (linked to the lithium project) and all licences have been annulled,” Brnabic told reporters after a government session. “As far as project Jadar is concerned, this is an end.”
Earlier this week, Rio had pushed back the timeline for first production from Jadar by one year to 2027, citing delays in key approvals.
Rio Tinto said it was “extremely concerned” by Serbia’s decision and was reviewing the legal basis for it.
The company committed to the project just last year, as global miners pushed into the metals needed for the green energy transition, including lithium, which is used to make electric vehicle batteries.
Brnabic accused Rio Tinto of providing insufficient information to communities about the project. In a statement, Rio said “it had always operated in compliance” with Serbian laws.
This could be the reason for Australia’s Rio Tinto getting kicked out of Serbia…