Serbian NGOs file environmental complaints against Rio Tinto, China Communications Construction Co
BELGRADE (Serbia), July 15 (SeeNews) – Two Serbian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say they have filed complaints against Rio Tinto’s local subsidiary, Rio Sava, and the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) for alleged environmental pollution.
The Drina Valley Anti-Corruption Team, PAKT, and the Coalition Against Environmental Corruption have filed a complaint against Rio Sava with the Loznica Attorney General’s Office for causing environmental pollution in the region of the Jadar River Valley, PAKT said in a statement.
Leaks of hazardous substances from groundwater level monitoring facilities used by Rio Sava have caused extensive property damage to local land owners, PAKT said. In the meantime, the company has reached settlements with several injured parties and thereby acknowledged the damage to the environment, he added.
Last month, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbia was ready to launch a local referendum for the development of the Jadar lithium borate exploration and processing project near the western city of Loznica by Rio Tinto, so that local community opposition to the project grows.
Rio Tinto plans to complete construction of an underground mine at the Jadar lithium borate project site in 2026. Jadar, discovered by Rio Tinto geologists in 2004 near Loznica, is believed to be capable of delivering around 55,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium carbonate, as well as 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulfate as by-products per year.
Another complaint was lodged with the higher prosecutor’s office in Kraljevo against CCCC who allegedly committed illegal excavations of gravel necessary for the construction of the Preljina-Pozega highway near the wells used for the alternative supply of drinking water to the city of Cacak , PAKT noted.
In April 2020, Serbia signed a loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) for the construction of 450 million euros ($ 531 million) of the Preljina-Pozega highway section. , which will be carried out by CCCC. The Preljina-Pozega section is part of Corridor XI – a motorway corridor connecting Bari in Italy to Bucharest in Romania via the port of Bar in Montenegro and Belgrade in Serbia. Corridor X will connect Salzburg in Austria to the Greek Aegean port of Thessaloniki, passing through Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and North Macedonia.
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