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The Environmental Committee of the University of Belgrade opposes the renewal of the Jadar project

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The Environmental Committee of the University of Belgrade has assessed that the “Jadar” project by Rio Tinto, involving lithium exploitation near Loznica, “lacks reasonable justification from economic, ecological, social, or moral perspectives,” and they oppose the renewal of its implementation, as reported by Prvi na skali.”We express our opposition to the intentions to renew the implementation of the ‘Jadar’ project because this project lacks reasonable justification from economic, ecological, social, or moral perspectives,” the statement conveyed by Prvi na skali said.

It is recalled that the project for lithium and boron exploitation in western Serbia began in 2002 and was halted after massive protests across Serbia in early 2022.

It is also added that the project concerns densely populated areas around Loznica and Valjevo, which, as stated, “completely diverges from the current global practice associated with uninhabited areas (Australia, China, Zimbabwe) or deserts (Chile, Argentina).”

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It is recalled that a negative stance on the project implementation was expressed at a scientific conference at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in May 2021, as well as through the views of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia and numerous professors and researchers from universities and scientific institutes.

As stated, certain documents were subsequently repealed as a basis for project implementation – the regulation on the “Spatial Plan of Special Purpose Areas,” acts on the reclassification of agricultural and forest land into construction land for over 300 households in Gornji Jadar, according to the decision of the Republic Geodetic Institute, as well as location conditions for the Jadarite mineral processing plant.

The Environmental Committee of the University of Belgrade considers “particularly problematic the ‘Action Plan for Population Relocation,’ implemented by ‘Rio Sava Exploration.'”

“The ‘March with the Drina’ organization has obtained data indicating that the company has spent over $270 million since the project was suspended (early 2022), with a total expenditure of $518 million since 2002. Therefore, more money was spent in the period from 2022 to 2024 than in the previous 19 years, mainly on non-material costs related to promoting the project, marketing and advertising services, subsidies to local residents for the purchase of agricultural machinery, although the mine directly destroys agriculture,” the statement said.

It is also added that “representatives of ‘Rio Sava Exploration’ persistently emphasize that the technical documentation is prepared by ‘the best global companies’ and that there is no reason to worry about serious environmental incidents, although they plan to leave behind landfills with tens of millions of tons of hazardous waste in the valleys of torrential rivers.”

The statement emphasizes that practice shows contrary examples.

It was specified that on August 4, 2014, the tailings dam of the copper and gold mine on the Mount Polley stream, in central British Columbia, burst, when 25 million cubic meters of tailings and water leaked into Quesnel Lake, and that the company “Imperial Metals” was not punished or accused, and that, among other things, there was a spill of 326 tons of nickel, 400 tons of arsenic, 177 tons of lead and 18,400 tons of copper, which threatened the water supply of the population and the most important salmon spawning habitats.

As a negative example, the tailings dam of another gold mine owned by “Aurul, S.A. Baia Mare Company” was breached on January 30, 2000, and when 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide-rich material came out, which reached into the local watercourse, in the Tisza river basin.

According to estimates, 50 to 100 tons of cyanide were transported to Serbia via Romania and Hungary, which caused fatal consequences for the living world and the water supply of the population, and the concentration of cyanide in certain sections of the river was 100 times higher than the maximum allowed amount for drinking. water, so the recovery of the aquatic ecosystem took more than five years, it was stated in the announcement.

It was emphasized that in Serbia the representatives of “Rio Sava Exploration” continue to try to buy land and real estate, announce stimulating incentives to local farmers for the purchase of agricultural machinery and carry out media preparation for the attempt to restore the project, which causes “anxiety of the population of endangered areas”, as well as a large number of experts and citizens.

It is recalled that the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia granted a large number of exploration rights, mainly to foreign, private mining companies: gold – 88, copper – 79, lithium – 63, boron – 52, sodium – 51, strontium – 51, zinc – 39, lead – 37, silver – 31, iron – 17, molybdenum – eight, antimony – seven, barite – four, arsenic – one, so the subject of exploration rights is 535,966 hectares, that is, six percent of the territory of Serbia.

The Committee for Environmental Protection of the University of Belgrade warned that the extraction and processing of critical mineral resources leads to severe destruction and pollution of all environmental media (air, soil, underground and surface water, forest ecosystems, biological diversity), often with severe consequences for public health of local communities.

“For example, Serbia has one of the highest mortality rates from lung and breast cancer at the global level, while around 10,000 people die every year due to diseases related to air pollution,” the statement said.

It is added that one of the most important factors of soil pollution in the Balkans is mining and ore processing processes, and that Bor is designated as one of the 50 “sacrificed” zones in this regard at the world level.

“We support mining in Serbia only through projects that satisfy clear national interests, and never the hunger for profit of private companies, foreign or domestic, which leads to enormous extractivism and irreversible destruction of land, large reservoirs of high-quality groundwater, habitats of diverse biodiversity, space for people to live and drastically endangering public health,” concluded the announcement of the Committee for Environmental Protection of the University of Belgrade.

The Committee for Environmental Protection of the University of Belgrade was established in 2021 and is an expert and advisory body whose function is to submit proposals to the Senate and other bodies of the University with the aim of protecting and improving the environment.

Source : Insajder

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