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Serbian government revokes Rio Tinto's licences for lithium project

Christian Fernsby |
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Thursday the government had revoked all licences related to Rio Tinto for lithium exploration.

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Topics: SERBIA    RIO TINTO   

"All decisions and all licences have been annulled," Brnabic told reporters after a government session.

She said the government decision came after requests by various environmental organisations to halt the project.

"As far as project Jadar is concerned, this is an end," she said, referring to the lithium project.

"Rio Tinto did not give sufficient information neither to local community nor to the government," she added.

Serbian PM Ana Brnabic said late on Thursday her government's decision to end Rio Tinto operations in Serbia was not forced or politically motivated as the citizens had had their say on the issue.

"We have also had lengthy protests in Serbia and we wanted the citizens to hear that we have protected their interests and that the government and (President) Aleksandar Vucic are for the people, rather than for political whims," Brnabic said at a press conference in response to a question whether the decision was forced or politically motivated.

Commenting on a Rio Tinto statement calling for fact-based dialogue as the foundation of any decision on the issue, Brnabic said dialogue based on facts was the best way out but that there had been no such dialogue with Rio Tinto and that the Serbian government was not to blame for that.

"We tried to provide information and to be for dialogue," Brnabic said, noting that, immediately after being requested to do so, the government had published a non-binding MoU with Rio Tinto.

She said the government had also asked Rio Tinto to provide more facts and information and be more present in the local community concerned by its lithium project in western Serbia.

"That dialogue never took place," Brnabic noted.

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