“We hope to be able to discuss all options with the Serbian government now that the election is not on track,” Simon Thomson told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Australia, in Rio Tinto’s first public comments since the election.
Reuters reminds that “Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić won the re-election by a large majority in April, but his party failed to form a government on its own.”
“The Jadar project, which could meet 90 percent of Europe’s current lithium needs, was very important for Serbia because it could boost the country’s economic performance and open up opportunities to develop downstream business to supply green technology to the European car market,” Thomson said. .
Rio Tinta CEO Jakob Stausholm said the global mining company is still making progress with plans to become a lithium producer, trying to speed up the Rincon project it bought in Argentina in December.
“But we certainly haven’t given up on Jadra, because, honestly, it’s a perfect project,” Stausholm told reporters after the annual meeting, stressing that the project has “flawless” environmental, social and management credentials.
Reuters states that the company could not publish its audit of the project’s impact on the environment and society before it received approval from the Serbian government, which, according to Thomson, led to misinformation about the project circulating ahead of the Serbian elections.
“We certainly understand the concerns of the local community, but we believe that in fact those concerns have been largely resolved by the environmental and impact assessments we have made,” Thomson said.