Rio Tinto’s past casts a shadow over Serbia’s hopes of a lithium revolution
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Rio Tinto’s past casts a shadow over Serbia’s hopes of a lithium revolution

People in the Jadar valley fear environmental catastrophe as Europe presses for self-sufficiency in battery technology

Read more in the Battery life series

Photographs by Vladimir Zivojinovic

A battery sign, flashing dangerously low, appears superimposed over a view of the globe as seen from space. “Green technologies, electric cars, clean air – all of these depend on one of the most significant lithium deposits in the world, which is located right here in Jadar, Serbia,” a gravel-voiced narrator announces. “We completely understand your concerns about the environment. Rio Tinto is carrying out detailed analyses, so as to make all of us sure that we develop the Jadar project in line with the highest environmental, security and health standards.”

Beamed into the country’s living rooms on the public service channel RTS, the slick television ad, shown just after the evening news, finishes with images of reassuring scientists and a comforted young couple walking into the sunset: “Rio Tinto: Together we have the chance to save the planet.”

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