The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price is down 1.8% at the time of writing as protests grow in Serbia.
According to reporting by various international media, such as The Guardian, thousands of protestors blocked major roads in Serbia with the government seemingly on course to allow Rio Tinto to go ahead with its lithium mine. There were reportedly similar protests last week as well.
Whilst Rio Tinto has been buying land around the western town of Loznica, it has yet to be given the final approval for the mine.
It was reported that protestors say the Serbian government is “setting the stage for illegal land appropriations and ignoring environmental concerns.”
Even Novak Djokovic has had a say on the situation. On Instagram, the tennis player said:
Clean air, water and food are keys to health. Without that, every word about ‘health’ is obsolete.
What’s the miner trying to do in Serbia?
In July 2021, it committed $2.4 billion for the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia.
The miner said that it’s one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects, though it remains subject to approval, permits and licences.
Rio Tinto says that the project would scale up Rio Tinto’s exposure to battery minerals and “demonstrate the company’s committed to investing capital in a disciplined manner to further strengthen its portfolio for the global energy transition.”
If approved, Jadar will produce battery-grade lithium carbonate. Management said Jadar would position Rio Tinto as the largest source of lithium supply in Europe for at least the following 15 years. Jadar will also produce borates, which is used in solar panels and wind turbines.
In trying to sell the economic benefits of Rio Tinto, the company said that Jadar will be one of the largest industrial investments in Serbia, contributing 1% directly and 4% indirectly to GDP, with many Serbian suppliers involved in the construction of the mine. It will also be a “significant employer”, creating 2,100 jobs during construction and 1,000 mining and processing jobs once in production.
What else could be impacting the Rio Tinto share price?
On Friday, on the London Stock Exchange, there was quite a lot of volatility for the Rio Tinto share price. Depending on the timing of global volatility, the ASX listing can either be ahead or behind the London Stock Exchange’s movement.
Also, last week Evergrande said in an announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that “there is no guarantee that the Group will have sufficient funds to continue to perform its financial obligations.”
The company has received a demand to “perform its obligations” under a guarantee for the amount of approximately US$260 million.
If Evergrande is unable to meet its guarantee obligations or certain other financial obligations, it “may lead to creditors demanding acceleration of repayment”.
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