BELGRADE -- Protesters blocked a major highway in the Serbian capital and other roads in the country in the latest in a series of public protests against a planned lithium mine.
Hundreds of people on January 15 blocked the main north-south highway in Belgrade for more than an hour. Other roads, including one by Serbia's border with Bosnia, also were blocked.
Minor incidents were reported, with angry drivers trying to push their way through the crowds.
Environmental groups want the government to halt any lithium mining in western Siberia, and have pledged to press on with demonstrations until their demands are met. Groups want the Rio Tinto mining company “expelled” from Serbia. Thousands joined similar demonstrations several weeks ago, forcing the government to withdraw two laws that activists said were designed to speed up mining projects.
Rio Tinto, a London-based mining giant, has performed preliminary engineering work for a planned lithium mine, but environmental groups say the mine would devastate farmland, waters, and the area's entire ecosystem, and have called for its complete cancellation. Environmental issues have become a public concern for Serbs amid bad air pollution, poor waste management, and other environmental problems that have accumulated after decades of neglect.