Thousands of protestors in Belgrade and other Serbian cities have stopped significant highways and bridges for the last two weekends to oppose the proposed lithium mine, despite an intimidation campaign conducted by police against the protesters.
Demonstrations against President Aleksandar Vucic’s increasingly authoritarian rule have been the most substantial challenge to his increasingly autocratic rule, which he has branded as unlawful and claims to be sponsored from overseas to destabilize the Balkan nation.
If the Paris Agreement targets are met, lithium demand will soar by 40 times by 2040, outpacing demand for any other mineral. However, only half of the projected demand will be met by existing mines and projects presently under construction.
With Utah’s unique topography, the United States state may assist fulfill the need for lithium, which at least four corporations have stated. Once prohibitively expensive to harvest, a new method has made Utah’s lithium accessible, possibly releasing a virtually unlimited lithium supply in the Great Salt Lake. The state’s tumultuous mining past may be the sole remaining obstacle to the resource’s commercialization.
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As a so-called “rare-earth” mineral, lithium is not very scarce. Experts argue that the problem is in obtaining and focusing on it. Lithium can be found in soils worldwide, but in most situations, the lithium is so dispersed that mining it would be inefficient.
A natural exception to this rule is Utah, located in the southwest. Lithium was deposited in the silt of Lake Bonneville, which dried up 12,000 years ago before the surrounding rocks were carried away. Some of the Bonneville relics, such as Great Salt Lake, Bonneville Salt Flat, and Sevier Lake, have a rich lithium concentration. According to Andrew Rupke, a senior mineralogy geologist with the Utah Geological Survey, saltwater brines containing lithium are also found in southern Utah.
Protesters from Serbian environmental and civil society organizations were outraged when Serbian officials reduced the referendum threshold for large projects and authored another rule that would lead to the quick confiscation of private land near big building projects. Activists say this would allow Rio Tinto to rapidly get the lithium mine up and running.
Anti-Rio Tinto demonstrators also want the government’s financial agreement with the mining company to be public. In a statement, the international business said it would invest $2.4 billion in a Serbian lithium mine.
Rio Tinto has been accused of corruption, environmental damage, and human rights violations at its excavation sites throughout its almost 150-year existence.
Electric vehicle batteries employ lithium, making it a future metal in a society that is more reliant on renewable sources of energy.
Environmentalists are also displeased with the Serbian government’s lack of reaction to the country’s growing pollution levels.
It was announced Wednesday by the Serbian administration that the expropriation legislation would be dropped, and the referendum law would be changed.
Government reversal this week on two environmental regulations environmentalists consider promoting resource extraction with little concern for the possibility of worsening pollution after the blockades in late November and early this month.
Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto has begun purchasing property in the western part of Jadar for its proposed $2.4 billion lithium and borates underground mine.
Borates are used in solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries for electric automobiles, becoming more and more popular.
Big multinational carmakers aim to avoid bottlenecks and keep their operations running at total capacity by partnering with mining businesses.
Industrial pollution left over from the Communist era has left Serbia among the most polluted nations in central and eastern Europe.