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Serbian court says govt decision to revoke Jadar lithium project permit unconstitutional

The Serbian Constitutional Court in a ruling on Thursday said that the government’s decision in 2022 to revoke Rio Tinto’s (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) spatial plan permit for the Jadar lithium mine project was unconstitutional.

Belgrade revoked licences for Rio’s $2.4 billion Jadar lithium project in Western Serbia in January 2022 after massive environmental protests.

In 2021 and 2022 Serbian environmentalists collected 30,000 signatures in a petition demanding that parliament enact legislation to halt lithium exploration in the country.

“The Government overstepped the limits of its competence by adopting the regulation in a manner that is not in accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Law on Government and the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment,” the court ruling said.

Green activists have repeatedly warned that the mining projects will cause more pollution in Serbia, already one of Europe’s most polluted countries.

On Thursday several hundred protesters gathered in front of the Constitutional Court building to demand a halt to the lithium exploration saying it is bad for the environment.

If completed, the Jadar project would be Europe’s biggest lithium mine, with a production of 58,000 tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium carbonate per year, enough to power one million electric vehicles and supply 90% of the continent’s current lithium needs.

Jadar would also propel Rio Tinto onto the world’s top 10 lithium producers podium.

“Rio Tinto welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court in Serbia,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“We continue to believe the Jadar Project has the potential to be a world-class lithium-borates asset that could act as a catalyst for the development of other industries and thousands of jobs for the current and future generations in Serbia.”

Shares of Rio Tinto rose 0.5% by 12:10 p.m. EDT. The miner has a market capitalization of $110 billion.

(With files from Reuters)

Source: MINING.COM – Read More