The Serbian Mining Disaster

Few issues have galvanised anti-government protests in Serbia more than the Rio Tinto mining project.

Serbia's Polluter-in-Chief. Aleksandar Vučić, 1 November.

Located in the Western Balkan state’s agricultural heartland, the Jadar Valley, the $2.4bn lithium mine would inject badly needed cash into the economy and put Serbia on the map as one of the world’s top producers of electric vehicle batteries.

But, according to a Bankwatch report, up to 15,000 farming households in the municipalities of Loznica and Krupanj would be threatened by the disruption the mining operation would cause to the local economy. That’s just for starters.

An environmental impact assessment by Rio Tinto itself recommended that the mine not be built because it would cause “irredeemable damage to the biosphere” and a University of Belgrade report warned of widespread habitat destruction.

Eurasian Climate Brief correspondents Milica Šarić and Jelena Knežević report from Belgrade on the growing backlash against the project.

Natalie Sauer and Angelina Davydova, in turn, talk to Savo Manojlović, the campaign director of one of the protests’ organisers, Kreni Promeni.

It’s a fascinating story about how green capitalism could go wrong, as the European Commission turns a blind eye to the project’s environmental impacts in a bid to cut down the EU’s lithium dependency on China.

At the time of this show’s recording, Rio Tinto had not returned our requests for comment.

Photograph courtesy of COP 26. Published under a Creative Commons license.