Serbians protesters block govt. building over mining

Nationwide protests over the last four weeks were initially sparked by new laws on expropriation of land and referenda which environmental activists say would make it easier for mining companies to push through their plans.

Conservative President Aleksandar Vucic sent the expropriation law back to parliament for reworking at the beginning of December, but protesters are calling for the cancellation of deals with mining companies such as Rio Tinto.

Protest leader Aleksandar Jovanovic Cuta said protesters wanted to see the government "expel" Rio Tinto from Serbia.

Authorities in the western town of Loznica said on Thursday (December 16) they were scrapping a plan adopted this year to open a lithium mine run by Rio Tinto in the area after opposition from activists.

However, Rio Tinto said it would not abandon the plan.

Protester Danijela Nestorovic said the abandonment of the project was "only throwing dust into people's eyes" to make it seem as if protesters were being listened to.

Lithium is in high demand globally as a vital ingredient in batteries for electric cars, while another expected mining product, borates, is used in solar panels and wind turbines.

Rio has promised to adhere to all domestic and EU environmental standards, but environmentalists say its planned $2.4 billion mine would irreversibly pollute drinking water.

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