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Europe’s Biggest Lithium Mine Blocked as Rio Loses in Serbia

  • Country has put a ‘full stop’ on Rio Tinto project: PM
  • Lithium is a crucial metal for rechargeable batteries
Ana Brnabic
Ana BrnabicPhotographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg
Updated on

Serbia blocked plans for Europe’s biggest lithium mine -- a flagship project of Rio Tinto Group’s new chief executive -- in a dramatic response to local opposition that’s set to pile more pressure on future supply of the crucial battery metal.

The decision announced Thursday shows how it’s getting increasingly difficult to build new mines -- even for commodities at the center of the world’s efforts to decarbonize. Both battery and carmakers face growing concerns about future supply of lithium, and prices have spiked to records this year as demand surges.