International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian minister denies construction of secret gas pipeline for Rio Tinto

July 19, 2021

Serbia’s Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic denied claims that a gas pipeline is being built in secrecy for the Rio Tinto company.

A press release quoted her as denying claims by opposition People’s Party leader Vuk Jeremic that a gas pipeline was being built secretly between Belgrade and the city of Loznica for the needs of the Rio Tinto company which is planning to mine lithium in that part of western Serbia.

The Rio Tino project has met with opposition from the local population (mainly farmers) who fear pollution while the authorities have tried to ease those fears saying that protecting the environment is a priority. Protesters have been confronted by private security guards allegedly brought in by Rio Tinto’s local branch. According to opposition leader Marinika Tepic, the project was discussed by opposition leaders and State Department official Matthew Palmer during his recent visit to Belgrade.

Mihajlovic said that infrastructure projects can’t be built in secrecy because they require permits and detailed plans. She added that the government has not taken a decision on the lithium mine and can’t before a study on its impact on the environment is completed.

Rio Tinto also denied Jeremic’s claims saying that the plan was to connect its Jadar complex to an existing major gas pipeline with an underground connection along part of the planned Valjevo-Loznica railway. The company said that the project is at feasibility study stage and is fully in line with spatial plans published in the Serbian Official Gazette in 2020.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-minister-denies-construction-of-secret-gas-pipeline-for-rio-tinto/


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