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In a demonstration against a lithium project, Serbian activists block roads

In a demonstration against a lithium project, Serbian activists block roads

Rio Tinto's plans to develop a $2.4 billion lithium mine have been blocked by dozens of environmental activists on Saturday.

The protests have become a headache for Serbia's ruling coalition before of a general election on April 3, and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said this week that a decision on whether to let the project proceed would be made after the vote.

The government has offered mineral resources to foreign investors, including the Zijin copper miner and Rio Tinto in China, as it seeks to increase economic growth, but green activists believe the mining projects will cause pollution.

"We do not want to be quiet... We want this country to be (safe) for our children," Ivana said, requesting not to reveal her entire name.

"Stop investors, save nature," one of the placards said of protesters.

Along with roads near the towns of Cacak and Sabac, a crossing point to Bosnia was also blocked.

Since late November, anti-mining protests have been held every Saturday, with a break for the New Year and Orthodox Christmas holidays.

Soon after the demonstrations began, conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic demanded parliament to review an expropriation act allowing the state to quickly acquire property for potential development. Environmentalists had opposed the legislation.

If Serbia is to join the bloc, it will need billions of euros to meet the EU's environmental requirements.

Rio Tinto has said that it would adhere to all domestic and EU environmental standards at its lithium mine in Serbia.

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