Most frequent questions and answers about the Project

About the Jadar Project

  • What does the Jadar Project represent?

    Jadarite is a new mineral containing lithium and boron, discovered by the Rio Tinto geologists in 2004 near Loznica, in the Jadar River Valley in Western Serbia, approximately 160 kilometres from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. This high quality large deposit adds great potential to the global supply of materials for low-carbon technologies, such as batteries used in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. Rio Sava Exploration is a member of the Rio Tinto Group, and the project developer for the Jadar Project.

  • What is the significance of such a discovery?

    Lithium, the lightest of all metals, is becoming one of the basic ingredients of many technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and positively contribute to stopping climate change. The discovery of high-quality, large reserves of the new lithium-containing mineral opens up new opportunities for further reduction of harmful emissions and for building the capacity required for the transition of society and economy towards zero carbon emissions. Considering the importance that the European Union gives to this topic, a large and strategically significant lithium deposit can enable Serbia to position itself as one of the most important European decarbonisation centres.

Research and results

  • How was the geological survey conducted?

    Rio Tinto applied several methods of geological investigations to confirm the available reserves in the Jadar deposit and drilling was the primary technique used (core drilling and rotary drilling without coring). Exploratory drilling was carried out within the limits of the approved exploration areas, and the last approved area covered an area of 60 km2 (see the Map of the Exploration Area). The rock material obtained from the selected wells was also used for testing the process of preparation and processing of mineral raw materials.

    Mapa istražnog prostora

    Map of the Exploration Area

  • What will be produced in this mine?

    The Jadar deposit with its unique mineral jadarite contain high-quality mineralization of boron and lithium. Within the Jadar Project, three products would be produced in powder form, in annual quantities of ~58,000 tons of refined lithium carbonate of battery-grade quality, 160,000 tonnes of boric acid, and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate.

    These products are important for the production of large batteries for electric vehicles, as well as for the storage of energy from renewable sources. Borates are used in solar panels, wind turbines and in numerous household products, such as detergents and cosmetics, as well as in insulating glass wool, mobile phone glass and fertilizers. Sodium sulfate is used in the textile industry and in the manufacture of powder detergents and glass.

  • What experience does Rio Tinto have in lithium extraction?

    Rio Tinto entered the lithium industry through its Boron mine in California, where borates have been mined since 1927. In 2019, we commenced an experimental project at Boron to recover battery-grade lithium from the boron waste piles and this was used to test the capacity to progress to larger-scale production. The Jadar Project will represent a direct continuation of the Boron mine experience, so, these two operations will be complementary.

    We have also developed a new, innovative technology for the production of lithium carbonate and boric acid from jadarite ore, and a small pilot plant for testing this new technology was developed in our research centre in Australia. So far, an international team of experts has conducted approximately 2,000 tests to confirm the technical viability of the production of three final products from jadarite ore. This has led to numerous improvements in the production process, as well as in the fields of occupational safety and environmental protection.

    Finally, in Argentina, since 2022, we have been developing the Rincon Project, which is located in the heart of the lithium triangle in the province of Salta. The project includes long-lasting supplies of lithium salts from which we plan to produce lithium carbonate of a quality suitable for the production of batteries. The raw material production project applies the technology of solar evaporation ponds, and as such has the potential to operate with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry. In addition to working with local communities and continuing environmental impact assessment studies, there is also a pilot processing plant at the project site, which we use to further improve the future production process and ensure optimal use of resources.

Construction of the mine

  • What is the exact area that the project will cover?

    The central project footprint (CPF) which includes the facilities supporting the underground mine and processing of the mined minerals is planned to cover 220 hectares, as indicated in the Spatial Plan of Special Purpose Areas (SPSPA) for the Jadar Project. The reference to 260 hectares includesthe proposed additional 40 hectares of land that needs to be acquired to establish a buffer zone between the proposed operating activities and neighbouring properties.

    Also, it is the result of the decision to buy complete plots, and not only those parts of the plots that are included in the core project footprint.

    Additionally, the Jadar Project SPSPA is also required to include other land-related actvities, including access to the CPF (220.04 ha), and the landfill (167.12 ha), related to a total area of 387.16 hectares. This total figure is stated in the SPSPA.

  • What working conditions will this new mine offer?

    Rio Tinto is building its mines at a high level of sophistication and safety and has introduced the latest technologies in many of its mines around the world. The Jadar Mine is being designed in accordance with the highest industrial standards in order to provide the best possible conditions in terms of occupational safety and health and well-being of its workers. For instance, the underground mine project includes ventilation with infrastructure for both cooling and heating with the aim of mitigating temperature variations and ensuring optimal temperatures for work, so, Jadar would be one of the few mines in the world that use such a system. All vehicles which would be used in the underground mine would be electric ones, which would reduce emissions and improve air quality in underground working conditions.

  • What is the expected life of the mine?

    If built, the operational life span of this mine is expected to be at least 40 years.

Economy-related questions

  • How much are Rio Tinto's investments in this mine?

    Rio Tinto allocated $450 million for the Pre-Feasibility Study, the Feasibility Study and other studies under the Jadar Project to understand the nature of the Jadar deposit.

  • What is the lithium market like?

    The fundamentals of a battery-grade lithium carbonate market are quite strong, and the demand for lithium is estimated to grow 25-35% year-on-year over the next decade. The Jadar Project could contribute to the improvement of the electric vehicle supply chain ecosystem in Serbia.

  • What benefits does Serbia have from the said Project?

    If approved, Jadar would be one of the largest industrial investments in Serbia and would bring a direct income of 1% and an indirect income of 4% within GDP. Many Serbian suppliers would participate in the construction of the mine, and we would also help the development of local businesses so that they could support the operation of the mine in the decades ahead. The Jadar Mine would also employ a large number of people: 2,100 jobs would be created during the construction, and 1,000 employees would work on exploitation and processing after the production commences.

  • Will the value chain expand beyond exploitation?

    Тhe fact that Serbia has a strategically significant lithium deposit has the potential to make it a desirable investment destination for a number of active participants and stakeholders in the European battery technology sector.

Environmental impact

  • What Environmental Impact Assessment studies have been conducted?

    Rio Tinto has been working with a group of more than 100 local and global external experts on all aspects of environmental, social and governance impacts, including around 40 university professors from more than 10 faculties and scientific institutions. So far, 12 environmental studies have been completed and more than 23,000 biological, physical and chemical analyses of soil, water, air and noise have been conducted. It is planned that the said studies serve as the foundation for the preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment Studies and enable us to fully understand the state of the environment before the potential commencement of mining operations. By developing fundamental studies, we strive to understand and predict the cumulative impacts of potential future operations over time so that we can reduce such impacts to a minimum by applying appropriate measures.

    Study title Study preparer/Institution
    Assessment of the impact of terrain subsidence due to mining activities on the environment and the local community Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade
    SEVESO Chemical Accident Safety Analysis for the Jadar Project Petram/SGS
    SEVESO study (II) Petram/SGS
    Report on the analysis of the state of documentation (GAP analysis) for the purpose of preparing the Project’s Environmental Impact Assessment Studies (two independent studies) Faculty of Mining and Geology and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade
    Development of noise models for the components of the Jadar Project SGS
    Air quality modelling for the needs of the Jadar Project Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade
    Hydrological Study of the Jadar River in the zone of the future abstraction for water supply Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Jadar Project Study of Water Supply Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Water Monitoring Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Wastewater Discharge Study Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Hydrotechnical Study - Flood Defence and Flood Zones in the Jadar River Valley Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Hydrotechnical Study of the Relocation of the River Korenita Jaroslav Černi Water Institute
    Previous hydrogeological study pertaining to the protection of the spring at the church in the village of Gornje Nedeljice Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade
    Soil Monitoring Report Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade
    Final Report on Soil Monitoring (II), Belgrade City Institute for Public Health Belgrade City Institute for Public Health
    Air Quality Monitoring Belgrade City Institute for Public Health
    Noise model for the Jadar Project of exploitation of lithium and boron SGS
    Reports on the Zero State of Biodiversity on the Jadar Project Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade and ERM
    Static Geochemical Characterization of Residue Samples SRK consulting
    Environmental Noise Monitoring SGS and HSE [Zaštita] Belgrade


  • Will large quantities of water be required for mining operations?

    Based on the Pre-Feasibility Study, the mine’s average water demand is estimated to be 11,6 litres per second, which means approximately 8.3 litres of water per 1kg of product. As part of the Feasibility Study, the development of water consumption model is pending, which takes into account the variability of mine water inflow and weather conditions (precipitation) depending on the year, as well as the possible impacts of climate change.

    The Jadar Project is designed to maximize the use of process water in operations and to minimize the total amount of water to be treated and purified. Water management would be state-of-the-art, with a dedicated wastewater treatment plant worth $35 million, which would allow approximately 70% of the technical water to come from recycled sources or treated mine water.

  • Will the water be pumped from the Drina River, thus jeopardizing the local water supply?

    Water for the needs of the Project would be provided from three sources:

    1. The primary source would be the water obtained by the purification treatment of the mine waters generated from regular drainage of the underground mine;
    2. Water obtained by collecting atmospheric runoff water in the area of processing and mining facilities would be used as an additional source.

    Water from alluvial sediments of the Drina River – not from its river course – that lie below the right bank of the river near Lipnički Šor. A water abstraction point would be formed in an area that is not suitable for a drinking water source. The water from the Drina alluvium would be used as a supplementary source of water supply only when there is not enough groundwater from the mine area or when there is not enough precipitation.

  • What will happen to the water that is not re-used in the mine?

    All quantities water that are not re-used would be re-treated at a cutting-edge wastewater treatment plant before being discharged into the river, to meet stringent environmental standards. The plant would process water in accordance with the Class II standard - the same quality as the Drina and Jadar rivers - applying modern and efficient technologies, primarily ultrafiltration using reverse osmosis and ion exchange. The amount of water flowing into the river from the treatment plant will be relatively low compared with the river’s overall flow: the Jadar River’s flow rate is on average 300 times higher than the inflow from the Jadar wastewater plant.

  • How much waste will the mine generate?

    It is estimated that the mine would generate 57 million tons of waste over its life. As a comparison, the largest mine in the Balkans has approximately 150 million tons of deposited waste. All waste would be handled carefully in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Serbia and regulations of the European Union. Environmental scientists would be present at the site, working closely with our process and plant safety engineers, water and waste management experts, and others to manage the systems and protect the local environment.

  • What type of waste will be produced and how will it be sorted?

    The Jadar Mine and processing facility would generate two types of waste:

    • Mining waste from the underground mine, and
    • Industrial waste from the processing of jadarite.

    Mineral processing would include crushing and wet separation, without flotation and without the formation of sludgy, liquid waste which would require storage within tailings dams. The waste that would be generated from the processing of jadarite ore would be dry waste, most similar to wet soil. Dry waste would be generated by filtration under pressure and then partial drying, which would reduce moisture to the optimal level for safe transport and compaction at a stable landfill (similar to an earth embankment). Approximately 30% of the waste would be used to backfill the underground mine after the mining excavation in certain underground areas would be completed.

  • Doesn't the waste contain high levels of toxic substances that could harm the environment?

    All waste will be carefully managed in line with local Serbian and European standards. The waste storage system will integrate a state-of-the-art air, water and soil quality monitoring system to ensure that potential environmental impacts are minimized.

    We will undertake a range of measures, such as installing liners to prevent leaching, leak detection and groundwater monitoring, use of water trucks to minimise dust, landfill surface compaction, weather and dust emission monitoring, and gradually closing the landfill with progressive capping.

  • Will sulphur dioxide produced in a processing plant “burn” nearby forests?

    No. The properties of jadarite, combined with technological innovations, entail that the ore would be processed at a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius. As sulphuric acid is stable at a temperature value below 100ºC, the said process will not create sulphur dioxide. In addition, the processing plant would include technology, such as scrubbers, that removes gases generated during processing.

  • Isn't there a risk that the mining will cause massive subsidence and landslides of the surrounding hills?

    The mine design includes two key controls to reduce subsidence of the surface land: backfilling of mine cavities (using material made of cement, rocks and minerals); forming protective columns of undisturbed rock mass and reinforcing underground with reinforced cement. Based on the design of the mine, estimates obtained by modelling show that the subsidence of the surface land on the very surface of the mine would be up to a maximum of 40 cm, while in the peripheral zones of the project, the subsidence could amount to a maximum of 15 cm. No risk of landslide was identified during the said modelling.

  • What will happen if there is a great flood?

    The mine infrastructure will be designed to withstand once in 1000 years flood events. This far exceeds design standards required by local law, which are based on a once in 100 years flood event.

  • Will the Project use renewable electricity sources or fossil fuels?

    The Jadar Project envisages the procurement of green energy exclusively from certified renewable sources (that is, energy that has a Guarantee of Origin within the framework specified in the standards of the Association of Guarantees of Origin Issuing Bodies, which is implemented in Serbia by EMS).

Social Impacts

  • How many households will be relocated in order to develop the Project?

    There are 52 permanently inhabited residential buildings in the Project area whose relocation would potentially be required, and 293 other landowners whose land could be affected. Rio Tinto is committed to negotiations conducted in a transparent, sensitive and fair manner. Since the beginning of the voluntary land acquisition programme, an extensive process of consultation and engagement has been implemented through face-to-face meetings and through community information days. The goal is for landowners to have the same or better quality of life and work compared to the one they had before moving. The impacts on livelihoods, vulnerable groups, as well as support for transition are particularly considered.

    Each impacted household was supported in the development of a customized plan related to these changes, including:

    • Selective support for the replacement of agricultural land for those who have difficulties in providing such land;
    • Support for the modernization of agricultural equipment;
    • Training and education to increase employment opportunities and employability;
    • Support to small businesses, including prioritization in the project procurement plan management process.

    Support is also provided to the community-level projects focusing on the development of agriculture, local institutions for training and improvement of community infrastructure.

  • How is the local community informed about the Project plans?

    Rio Tinto has been part of the community for over 20 years. This cooperation was achieved through public presentations, the establishment of information centres in Loznica and Brezjak, the events in information centres, which are focused on certain aspects of the Project, as well as through regular community meetings. Community members would also have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed Project through the Environmental Impact Assessment process, as well as through regular community public consultations activities.

  • Will the energy consumed by the mine destabilize the local supply?

    The level of annual electricity consumption of the Jadar Mine would range from low to medium level among industrial consumers in Serbia. The mine would be supplied with electricity through the regional high voltage network (managed by EMS as the operator), while the electricity supply of the surrounding local communities is performed through the local low voltage grid (managed by EPS). These are two separate networks. In case of further implementation of the Project, Rio Tinto would finance high-voltage facilities for connection and distribution system that would become part of the EMS network, including 2.5 kilometres of OHL (transmission line) to the project location.

  • What will be the impact on local traffic?

    The study of traffic management was completed, with special emphasis on safety on local roads, which is related to the increased traffic generated by the operation of the mine. The model was developed in coordination with the leading international consulting company "Deutsche Bahn Engineering" and the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering. Potential traffic bottlenecks on road sections and options for bypass roads were identified. Railway transport studies were also conducted with the aim of shifting as much trucking as possible to rail. An experienced team was formed to analyse transport routes and recommend rail options to reduce the impact on the local community and improve railway safety.

  • Who will benefit the most from the employment opportunities on the Jadar Project?

    The goal is for 90% of the employees of the Jadar Project to be Serbian workers. It is estimated that approximately two thirds of all jobs will be job opportunities for highly qualified operators and maintenance contractors, with the help of complex, technologically advanced equipment both in the underground mine and in the processing plant. In the Jadar Mine, we would also need:

    • Artisans and craftsmen such as electricians, welders and metal fabricators;
    • Technical specialists in the fields such as processing, metallurgy, electrical, mechanical, automation and geotechnical engineering; data science; hydrology; geology; surveying; accounting; human resources and asset management;
    • Supervisors and team leaders.

    The Jadar Project offers a multitude of opportunities to the local population, both in terms of skills development and employment. Rio Tinto is developing recruitment and training plans, and exploring opportunities to partner with high schools, universities and technical colleges.

Further steps

  • What are the next steps in the development of the Project?

    Rio Tinto remains dedicated to safe, responsible and sustainable development of materials required for the green transition. In addition, we continue to believe that the Jadar Project can contribute to the improvement of the electric vehicle supply chain ecosystem in Serbia. As we have publicly announced, we are exploring options with all stakeholders to improve this world-class opportunity to the highest environmental standards.

Answers to stakeholder questions

  • Your SPSPA permits have been cancelled, why is Rio Tinto still operating in Serbia?

    We believe the Jadar Project has the potential to be a world-class asset that could support the development of other future industries in Serbia, acting as a catalyst for tens of thousands of jobs for current and future generations.

    We have listened to the concerns raised by the people of Serbia and are working to address these concerns fully and openly. We believe wholeheartedly that this project is in the best interests of Serbians – not just now, but for generations to come.

    We are also long-term landowner and employer and have made commitments to the community and suppliers. We will continue to honour our obligations in spite of our permits and licenses being cancelled.

  • Why is Rio Tinto still buying land in Loznica?

    Rio Tinto is completing the land acquisition process for negotiations that began before the Project licences were cancelled in January 2022. We have not undertaken any activities related to new land acquisition.

  • This project will have a negative impact on the environment. How will Rio Tinto mitigate the impact to the environment in Loznica?

    We have heard the concerns raised by Serbian people around the potential impacts to air, water, waste, land, and biodiversity by the project. We are working to address those concerns and we remain ready to engage, listen and communicate openly about our company and proposals.

    We would welcome the chance to engage to discuss concerns about biodiversity and other impacts, as there has been a lot of misinformation that has stood in the way of informed debate. For example, it is important to know that the proposed project is an underground mine, not an open pit mine, compared to many other lithium operations globally. This project would utilise state-of-the-art processing techniques, meaning Serbia’s lithium resources can and would be extracted sustainably and safely.

    The project has huge economic potential for Serbia, but it does not need to come at the cost of the natural environment and the region’s agricultural industries.