Serbia on a way to become a toxic tailings pond

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Dr. Dragana Đorđević, who has repeatedly pointed out that mining ore and its processing in the Jadra Valley could have catastrophic consequences for the environment, continues to point out everything that is harmful to the environment, because that is her job. And the environment in Serbia is currently in great danger, not only because of one, but 10 lithium mines, as outlined in the proposed spatial plan.

They did not convince you that the mixing of ore and sulfuric acid, in order to separate lithium, will be done in highly controlled conditions and that there will be no damage to the environment. Didn’t they convince you?

The conceptual design does not exist, and I cannot believe the word of the company that claims to have 10 percent of global lithium reserves in the Jadra Valley this year, when the scientific literature indicates that there are less than one percent of them. The technology that is planned in Jadra is the one that is also planned for the lithium and pine mine in the Nevada desert. According to this technology, the ground ore is delivered by conveyor belts to open reactors in which it is mixed with acids. They will use about 1,000 tons of sulfuric acid with a concentration of 98% per day, which evaporates on its own. If it spills over the ore, what can we expect but steam to come out and fry everything around, and there is fertile land and rich biodiversity around.

There are great powers behind “Rio Tinto”, and they obviously have the support of the Serbian authorities. Were you scared that they called you out directly?

I’m not scared. I don’t think about it at all. I think that it is the job of an academic citizen to approach and speak critically about important issues, especially if he notices that some political moves will cause irreparable damage, which would happen in this case. The scientific field in which I deal, and it concerns the search for a cause-and-effect connection of endangering the environment, allows me to easily identify the key risks that would harm the environment, which needs to be protected. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

The Draft Spatial Plan of Serbia mentions as many as 10 lithium mines. Where should they be located?

We are talking only about the mine in Jadro, and those potential 10 lithium mines extend from Loznica, Valjevo, through Čačak and Jagodina all the way to Vranje. I saw a map of lithium ore bodies in our region that stretches from Croatia (around Zagreb), through Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Greece, to Turkey, and only we plan to excavate lithium with dramatic consequences in the form of centuries of environmental pollution. They didn’t stay crazy, did they?

With so many mines, we will turn Serbia into one big toxic tailings. From such a fertile country that can feed the whole of Europe, we will make toxic places where nothing grows anymore.

What do you think about the proposed and then withdrawn water law?

It is an attempt to legalize all the mischief that is currently happening, in addition to the laws that guarantee water protection, which is planned in the future. We have a whole wild settlement on the Sava embankment made in the forbidden zone, at the water source. Facilities were built above the reni wells where the septic tanks are located. They take water and electricity from reni-wells, they shake the embankment that protects the New Belgrade side of the capital from floods. It is something that is unthinkable. The flood in Obrenovac in 2014 happened precisely because the embankments were damaged. When the state does not do its job and when the institutions do not care about our health and safety, then the citizens must do it. I am glad that a large army of young educated people has appeared who are aware of the problem, who recognize it and have the knowledge and strength to fight for their place where they will live, and we are only here to help them with our knowledge.



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