A proposed mining project, which was to produce 2.3 million tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate over four decades, has had its licence revoked by the Serbian government.
Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić said the decision was made following requests by various green groups to halt the mining firm Rio Tinto’s $2.4 billion Jadar lithium project.
Brnabić told reporters: “All decisions (linked to the lithium project) and all licences have been annulled. As far as project Jadar is concerned, this is an end.”
The decision followed three weeks of protests by activists last December, including the blocking of main roads and bridges, over the planned lithium mine near Loznica.
Constraints on the battery materials supply chain saw lithium carbonate prices rise 25% in the second half of January to 358,500 yuan ($56,000)/tonne, amid high global demand and difficulty of securing supplies.
Billion dollar project
In July 2021, Rio Tinto committed $2.4 billion to the project, which was set to become one of the largest greenfield lithium projects in the world.
Australian firm Rio Tinto expected the first saleable production from the mine would be in 2027.
The firm forecast the project would deliver around 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate (used in lithium-ion electrodes) and, based on this production, was expected to deliver 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate over the 40-year life of the mine.
A Rio Tinto statement read: “Understandably, there are significant concerns about the potential impact of the mine on the local communities of the Jadar valley and we understand that we need to show that these concerns can be addressed and managed.
“We believe in Jadar, a world-class project with the potential to play an essential role in the transition to a low carbon future, and are working through what this means for the project and our people in Serbia.”
Read more about the potential lithium-ion batteries supply chain shortfall here