Belgrade, Serbia (AP) – Thousands of people demonstrated in Serbia on Saturday, with a planned ban on lithium mining in the Balkans and many more that have made the region one of the most polluted areas in ‘Europe. Asked for a solution to environmental problems.
A rally in downtown Belgrade has recently gained popularity in Serbia amid widespread disillusionment from mainstream politicians and the major pollution issues facing the region. Organized by.
Protesters say they are on the line due to government policies and decades of profit-seeking neglect, with flags calling for the protection of Serbian rivers, nature and air.
Protesters then announced several more blockades across the rest of the country over the course of a few months, blocking one of the capital’s main bridges for a while.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition to an international mining company Rio Tinto seeking to build a mineral-rich lithium mine used to produce batteries for electric vehicles in the west of the country.
“Our demand is that the Serbian government revoke all its obligations towards Rio Tinto,” said Alexander Jovanovich, one of the organizers. “We have come together to say no to those who give concentrated sulfuric acid instead of raspberries and honey.”
Many experts warn that nature in western Serbia will suffer if lithium is developed in fertile land and areas rich in agriculture. Serbia is also facing a huge pollution problem caused by a coal-fired power plant operated by a Chinese company.
Besides the mining industry, Serbia faces growing problems such as poor waste management and high air pollution caused by the use of low-quality coal and other pollutants. Rivers are polluted with toxic industrial waste and many cities, including Belgrade, do not have good sewage and sanitation systems.
“This summer we are thirsty, we are breathing toxic air and the land is sold,” the organizer of the event said in a statement. âForests have been cut down and mines are growing. ”
The Balkan countries must significantly improve their environmental protection policies if they wish to continue their candidacy to join the EU in 27 countries. After years of war in the 1990s, many Balkan countries that fell into poverty and were affected by corruption pushed environmental issues towards onlookers.
Rio Tinto has invested $ 2.4 billion in a project in Serbia, making it one of the world’s largest lithium producers amid growing demand for electric vehicles.
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Serbs protest lithium mining and other environmental issues | WGN 720 radio