Rio Tinto shares are rising even though the lithium plans may be delayed.
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Rio Tinto is best known as a global powerhouse in the iron ore industry. But it had been hoping to expand into the lithium world with a huge mine project in Serbia called Jadar.
However, the business has been facing pressure with large protests against the planned mine with concerns on the environmental impacts and protections.
There have been concerns by protestors about long-term damage to rivers and farmland where the Jadar project is located.
Rio Tinto’s lithium mine has been reportedly suspended
According to reporting by The Guardian, local authorities in western Serbia have suspended plans to allow the mining to go ahead.
The mining had been expected to start soon. However, a town council in Loznica has reportedly voted to suspend a regional development plan that allowed the mining of lithium.
This vote came after the suspension last week of two laws in Serbia’s parliament that would help Rio Tinto start the mine.
The Guardian quoted the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, who said:
Whether there will be a mine depends on people [in western Serbia] and the study on environmental impact assessment. These are the two conditions that the president stated earlier.
Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić has said that “we will have to speak in a different way to Rio Tinto and others”.
The miner’s response
It was reported by The Guardian that Rio Tinto said in a statement on Thursday that it worked in accordance with laws and the highest professional standards throughout its 10-year presence in Serbia in order to launch “the largest mining investment in this part of the world”.
A lot is riding on this project
Rio Tinto has committed US$2.4 billion to the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia, which it hopes will be one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects. It could have a growing influence on the Rio Tinto share price over time, if approved.
It boasted that it would add 1% directly and 4% indirectly to GDP, with many Serbian suppliers involved in the construction of the mine. Rio Tinto also said it would create 2,100 jobs during construction and 1,000 mining and processing jobs in production.
First saleable production was planned for 2026, with full production in 2029.
Rio Tinto has noted that this mine could be help the global energy transition and give the miner exposure to the important commodity of lithium. The Jadar project could supply enough lithium to power over one million electric vehicles per year.
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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.