Rio Tinto Continues to Purchase Land in Serbia | Beta Briefing

Rio Tinto Continues to Purchase Land in Serbia

Source: Beta
Archive / News | 23.02.23 | access_time 14:39

Rio Tinto's Information Center, Gornje Nedeljice(BETAPHOTO/MILAN TIMOTIC/DS)

As of June 2022, the company Rio Tinto has purchased at least 1.2 million euros’ worth of land in the Loznica area despite the Serbian government’s moratorium on the Jadar lithium mining project, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported on Feb. 23.

According to documents from Rio Tinto’s meeting with the EU Delegation to Serbia – which BIRN has managed to obtain – the company is optimistic about the outcome of the promised local referendum on the Jadar Project but is less confident in its success should the issue be voted on nationally.

The Jadar Project was halted by the government led by Ana Brnabic on Jan. 20, 2022, following a country-wide series of protests by environmental activists, which included blockades of bridges and major thoroughfares. The Cabinet also voided all permits Rio Tinto had been issued.

A part of the public, however, remains skeptical of the moratorium and believes that the project has merely been “shelved” until the socio-political climate turns more favorable.

BIRN’s research indicates that the mining company most certainly has not “pulled the plug” on the project, given that it has purchased at least 5.78 hectares of land in the Loznica are over the last eight months.

Cross-referencing its finds with the State Geodetic Institute’s land registry, BIRN discovered that Rio Tinto has signed at least seven sales contracts with landowners in the villages of Gornje Nedeljice and Slatina – the first in June 2022 and the last in January 2023 – and has paid over EUR1.2 million for the plots.

Asked by BIRN to comment on these findings, Rio Tinto replied that said land purchases “fulfilled obligations which [Rio Tinto] inherited from [its subsidiary] Rio Sava, dating from the period before the Serbian government voided the project’s [permits] in January 2022.”

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