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Could the  Australian Government’s hatred of Novak Djokovic be because of his public support for the preservation of Serbian ecology in Jadar Valley? Hmm... let's have a think. 

Rio Tinto is an Australian mining company that was planning to open a huge Lithium mine in Serbia. There were massive anti Rio Tinto protests across Serbia back in 2021 and early 2022, protests that were supported by many popular public figures, including Djokovic.

Djokovic shared a photograph of the protest on Instagram and commented that “clean air, water and food are keys to health.  “Without that, every word about ‘health’ is obsolete,”  

Would Rio Tinto be amused? Probably not. In fact, I suspect that they would not appreciate Novak Novax supporting a movement to stop them mining lithium in Serbia. Tut tut, Novak! 

Talk about a net of intrigue and courting trouble. Naughty Novak had the audacity to enter into a  debate over a very financially lucrative deal in Serbia for Rio Tinto and no doubt it was game set and match the moment he dared to speak out against an Australian mining giant like Rio Tinto. 

He served a big dose of f##k you to Australia in December 2021 by backing his own country and joining the volley of voices that dared to play hardball with Rio Tinto. 

In fact, it could be said that he stepped over the line and was done and dusted. 

It was only December of 2021 that Rio Tinto paused its Jadar lithium project in Serbia after a municipality in the country scrapped a plan to allocate land for the mine. 

Did Naughty Novak Novax help with this loss of allocation? Was he the poster child for Serbian Solidarity against lithium laying waste to fields of food for Serbs? 

rio tinto jadar serbia

Jadar is estimated to contain 10% of the world’s reserves of lithium, the primary raw material for the production of the batteries that power electric vehicles. Image from Rio Tinto.

Thousands of demonstrators blocked major roads across Serbia in December as people vented their anger over a government-backed plan to allow Australian mining company Rio Tinto to extract lithium.

Smaller protests were held in other Serbian cities.

Substantial deposits of lithium – a key component for electric car batteries – have been found around the western town of Loznica, where Rio Tinto bought land.

Rio Tinto discovered lithium reserves in the Loznica region in 2006.

The company intends to invest $2.4bn in the project, according to Vesna Prodanovic, director of Rio Sava, Rio Tinto’s sister company in Serbia.


Rio Tinto wanted to develop the mine near Loznica in the western Jadar river valley, one of Serbia’s main agricultural hubs: it is responsible for around 20% of total agricultural production in Serbia.

“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, 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.”

So said the TV ad that featured in Serbia from the mining giant. 

“Rio Tinto: Together we have the chance to save the planet.”

The trouble is Rio Tinto has a somewhat chequered past when it comes to the environment. The chief executive of Rio Tinto’s iron ore operation, Simon Trott, said back in 2021 that the company was “not proud of its history” at its Marandoo mine in Western Australia where hundreds of ancient artifacts were thrown into a rubbish dump.

Only recently, the company finally agreed, after decades of appeals, to fund an “environmental and human rights impact assessment” of its former copper and goldmine in Panguna, in Papua New Guinea, where it is claimed that 1bn tonnes of mine waste were dumped into the Kawerong-Jaba river delta. 


Oh, and did I mention that Scott Morrison's Chief of Staff was John Kunkel?

Before joining Scott Morrison’s office as chief of staff, Dr John Kunkel served as the former head of government relations at Rio Tinto and the former deputy chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia.

He is now with The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney as Senior Economics Advisor. The Centre is a university-based research centre, " dedicated to the rigorous analysis of American foreign policy, economics, politics and culture. The Centre is a national resource, that builds Australia’s awareness of the dynamics shaping America — and critically — their implications for Australia."

And people think it is all about tennis?

Coo-ee people!

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