Rio Tinto on water management in the Jadar valley in Serbia

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Residents of Jadar and the surroundings of Loznica, as well as numerous environmental organizations in Serbia, are protesting against the Rio Tinto Jadar Project. All of them often point to a number of possible environmental incidents, especially when it comes to water management.

The implementation of the Jadar Project will respect all regulations on water management, say the participants in the meeting for non-governmental organizations organized by the company Rio Tinto. The company notes that during the exploitation and processing of jadarit ore will mostly use recycled water, which it will regularly purify.

Prvoslav Marjanovic from the Institute for Water Management “Jaroslav Cerni” explains that water for the Jadar Project will be obtained from four basic sources: 90 cubic meters per hour from the Drina alluvium, 130 cubic meters per hour from mine drainage waters, and about 100 cubic meters of rainwater which depend on precipitation. He notes that only excess wastewater will be discharged into nearby watercourses, about 80 cubic meters per hour from the mine, while about 55 cubic meters of water per hour will be discharged from the landfill. The process of wastewater treatment, as he explains, will be such that the discharged wastewater will be of better quality than the water in the Jadar River itself. Marjanovic also answered the question of Dragana Djordevic from the Institute of Chemistry, Technology and Metallurgy, a well-known critic of the Jadar Project, who was interested in who would pay for the expensive treatment of drainage water from mine tailings after the cessation of exploitation. According to Marjanovic, one of the solutions is to form a special fund for those purposes, which will collect funds for those purposes, from the first day when the mine starts working.

Margareta Milosavljevic from Rio Sava Exploration (a subsidiary of Rio Tinta) says that Rio Tinto already applies good water management practices in many of its projects. In this regard, she cited the example of a mine in Mongolia located in the Gobi Desert, as well as a diamond mine in Australia. Thus, during the ore exploitation, the water is actually reused for the most part because it goes through the recycling process. Milosavljevic says Rio Tinto is a responsible company, operating on the principles of sustainable separation. He claims that his activities will avoid permanent impact on surface and groundwater, on the rivers Jadar and Drina, as well as on their basins.

First, the needs of the local population will be respected, and only then the industrial complex of the Jadar Project, Milosavljevic emphasizes and adds that in the future, about 500 workers will be employed in the mine and the Jadarite ore processing plant. According to her, the company will purify and reuse most of the water, and purify and discharge a smaller part into the Jadar River.

Professor Aleksandar Djukic from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Belgrade is in the team of experts hired by the company Rio Sava Exploration, for the needs of the Jadar Project. In the initial parts, the Jadar Project, according to him, is regulated by the Law on Mining and Geological Research, as well as the Law on Planning and Construction. Later, a number of legal solutions from the Law on Waters were applied, as well as several laws in the field of environmental protection. Djukic explains that the development of the conceptual design for Jadar has yet to begin, so that will later be the basis for the preparation of a study on its impact on the environment. Part of the water for the needs of the mines and plants will be obtained from the water supply system, and larger quantities from the alluvium of the river Drina, as well as by collecting rainwater. According to Djukic, the supply system will be periodically replenished with water from an underwater source. It will take about 1,500 kibbutzim a day, or over 100 liters per second, and the spring will work for several hours a day.

According to him, the mining waste will be located in the very circle of the mining plant, while the industrial waste will be processed and dried at the landfill, which will be located at the location of Stavica. Djukic reminds that in case of discharge of untreated wastewater into the river Jadar, or any river flow, according to the Law on Waters, the repair of damage is carried out at the expense of the person responsible for pollution, and that is clearly defined in the law. The control mechanisms in that area in Serbia have wide powers, so due to the environmental incident, they can also close the pollutant plant, explains Djukic.



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