President Aleksandar Vucic recently announced that Serbia could potentially start exploiting its lithium reserves as soon as 2028. This comes after receiving new guarantees from the Australian mining company, Rio Tinto, and the European Union. Jadar, located in western Serbia, is said to contain one of the largest lithium reserves in Europe, a metal essential for the production of electric vehicle batteries.

Environmental Concerns and Opposition

The mining project in Jadar was put on hold in 2022 due to widespread protests driven by concerns over environmental impact and public health. Critics accused both Rio Tinto and Vucic of lacking transparency and failing to disclose vital information, such as environmental impact reports. However, Rio Tinto has now released an environmental impact report aimed at addressing these concerns and reassuring the public about the safety and reliability of the mining operation.

If the mining project in Jadar proceeds as planned, it is expected to produce around 58,000 tonnes of lithium per year. This amount would equate to roughly 17 percent of electric vehicle production in Europe or approximately 1.1 million cars. President Vucic believes that opening the mine could be a significant game-changer for Serbia and the entire region, bringing economic benefits and boosting the country’s position in the global market.

In September 2023, Serbia signed a letter of intent with the European Commission for a strategic partnership in batteries and raw materials. This partnership signals a commitment to promoting sustainable practices and aligning with European environmental standards. It also reflects a broader strategy to secure a stable and reliable supply of lithium for the growing electric vehicle industry.

The future of lithium mining in Serbia appears to be on the horizon, with new guarantees in place and efforts to address environmental concerns. The potential benefits for the country are significant, but it is crucial for all stakeholders to remain vigilant and ensure that the mining operation is conducted responsibly and in compliance with the highest environmental standards. Only time will tell if Serbia can successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by this ambitious endeavor.


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