Serbian environmental protesters reject lithium mining plans

Environmental demonstrators hold banner showing an image of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reading: "A traitor!"  as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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Environmental demonstrators hold banner showing an image of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reading: "A traitor!" as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental protesters are once again demanding the cancelation of plans for lithium mining in western Serbia

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Environmental protesters demanding the cancelation of plans for lithium mining in western Serbia took to the streets again Saturday, blocking key roads and for the first time a border crossing.

Traffic on the Balkan nation's main north-south highway was halted for more than an hour in Belgrade, the capital, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one by Serbia's border with Bosnia.

Minor incidents have been reported with angry drivers trying to push their way through the crowds. Witnesses told N1 television that a man was injured in one incident in the western town of Sabac.

Environmental groups want Serbia's populist government to halt the possibility of lithium mining in western Serbia. Activists have pledged to press on with blockades until their demand is met and the Rio Tinto mining company is “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 the country's mining plans.

”This is an ecological catastrophe, that I think Serbia is already one foot in, and even a worse one (catastrophe) is threatening," said Belgrade resident Mirjana Podolsek.

Another protester, Janko Krizan, believes that “it is our duty to come here.”

“Rio Tinto will not only pollute Serbia, but it will pollute everything else, entire system, everything," he said.

Rio Tinto has performed explorations in western Serbia but environmental groups want the project abolished, saying that lithium mining would devastate nearby farmland, waters and the area's entire ecosystem.

Environmental issues have become a public concern in Serbia because the nation of 7 million people is facing bad air pollution, poor waste management and many other environmental problems that have accumulated after decades of neglect. Serbia must tackle those environmental issues to advance in its bid to join the 27-nation European Union.

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Environmental protesters hold banner showing an image of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reading: "A traitor!" as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental protesters hold banner showing an image of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reading: "A traitor!"  as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
Environmental protesters hold banner showing an image of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reading: "A traitor!" as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

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A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "We are standing here with our ancestors and their ancestors!" blocking highway to protest plans for lithium mining in the Balkan country in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "We are standing here with our ancestors and their ancestors!" blocking highway to protest plans for lithium mining in the Balkan country in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "We are standing here with our ancestors and their ancestors!" blocking highway to protest plans for lithium mining in the Balkan country in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
A Environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading "Because: we don't have other country, other water and air!" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A Environmental demonstrator holds a  banner reading "Because: we don't have other country, other water and air!" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A Environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading "Because: we don't have other country, other water and air!" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
A car drives in the opposite direction, where a highway was blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A car drives in the opposite direction, where a highway was blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A car drives in the opposite direction, where a highway was blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
A demonstrator blocks a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A demonstrator blocks a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A demonstrator blocks a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators surround a vehicle as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental demonstrators surround a vehicle as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators surround a vehicle as they block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
People walk on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

People walk on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
People walk on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
A person walks on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A person walks on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A person walks on the highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Environmental demonstrators block a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
Environmental demonstrators block a highway, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

caption arrowCaption
A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "No Pasaran" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "No Pasaran" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
caption arrowCaption
A environmental demonstrator holds a banner reading: "No Pasaran" as a highway is blocked, during a protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Hundreds of environmental protesters demanding cancelation of any plans for lithium mining in Serbia took to the streets again, blocking roads and, for the first time, a border crossing. Traffic on the main highway north-south highway was halted on Saturday for more than one hour, along with several other roads throughout the country, including one on the border with Bosnia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic