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Lithium was also found in the Republika Srpska in Bosnia, which is likely to go to Mercedes

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ARCore searched for lithium in the Lopare area of ​​the Republika Srpska in Bosnia
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In recent days, there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding lithium mining in Serbia – who remembers the election frauds? – after the Serbian president held talks with the CEO of Rio Tinto in Davos. Two years ago, environmental groups and the local population managed to force the Belgrade government to withdraw permits granted to the multinational mining company Rio Tinto. However, dialogue with Rio Tinto continued, along with discussions with other companies and governments. Meanwhile, about 60 kilometers west of the Serbian site, in the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, extensive research in the Majevica Mountains has revealed significant lithium findings, only recently coming to light.

Various minerals are being mined in Bosnia

The Swiss-based subsidiary of ARCore AG has established itself in Laktaši, the hometown of Milorad Dodik, in the heart of the Bosnian Serb world. Located 200 kilometers away in the Lopare region of the Majevica Mountains, the company claims to have found large quantities of lithium. 

According to the company, all activities strictly adhered to legal regulations and the highest geological and ecological standards for such research. What else could they say if they intend to mine? Which they indeed do!

The Swiss company claims to have obtained permission for exploration in 2018, followed by three intensive research phases from 2020 to 2022. During this period, they determined that the site contains significant amounts of lithium carbonate, magnesium, potassium, and boron. 

However, ARCore was not the first company to conduct research in the region. In 1998, shortly after the end of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian conflict, Rio Tinto also conducted five drills, with Lithium ALB adding three more in the 2010s.

Lithium is often considered the future raw material essential for electric vehicles and various electronic devices. However, its mining poses significant environmental risks, according to environmentalists.

On the map, the number one is the Bosnian site (Lopare), and the number two is the one in Serbia (Gornje Nedeljice)

On the map, the number one is the Bosnian site (Lopare), and the number two is the one in Serbia (Gornje Nedeljice)

Tihomir Dakić, the president of the Environmental Center in Banja Luka, describes the presumed approval of lithium extraction as “madness,” with locals and the Serbian Republic unlikely to benefit due to low concession fees.

As of now, there has been no application for lithium exploitation submitted to the Bosnian Serb government. However, Western countries increasingly view Bosnia and Herzegovina as Europe’s mining region. A few months ago, the US, UK, and Norwegian ambassadors visited the zinc and lead mine in Vareš, where the English had previously received concessions, though not for lithium.

The Bosnian-Herzegovinian city that was once an important center for mining and metallurgy after the war sunk into post-war emptiness. However, this has changed with the arrival of British Adriatic Metals and Eastern Mining in the region. They are expected to begin extraction on January 24 with a €200 million investment.

The site not only contains lead, zinc, and copper but also traces of gold. The mine is expected to employ 300 workers, with the production launch potentially creating up to 2,500 additional jobs in related activities.

However, this pales in comparison to the potential employment impact of the Lopare lithium mine, assuming it comes to fruition.

According to Vladimir Rudić, the local director of ARCore Investments, mining and related activities could directly create around 1,000 jobs and indirectly generate 3,000 to 5,000 more, providing an economic boost to the region.

The Lankas of the Majevica Mountains in Republika Srpska

The Lankas of the Majevica Mountains in Republika Srpska (Source: X platform)

Will Bosnian lithium go to Mercedes?

Continuing with the Bosnian lithium story, opinions among the residents of Lopare vary on whether a mine could be established in their vicinity. Some believe that the opportunity should be seized, as there is no other source of income in the area besides mining. Others, however, are concerned that lithium extraction could harm the environment.

Rado Savić, the mayor of Lopare, stated in an interview with the local BN Television in October of last year that there is significant buzz around the potential exploitation of lithium, and this excitement needs to settle for well-thought-out decisions to be made.

In mid-December, Savić added that if a mine ever opens, the technology used there and its impact on the environment and citizens’ health must be known. He believes that the final decision should be made through a referendum.

However, there are conspiracy theories suggesting that the lithium extracted in the Bosnian Serb Republic could be processed in Serbia, especially if Rio Tinto restarts its investments there. This sheds a somewhat different light on the talks between the Serbian president and Rio Tinto’s CEO in Davos.

In mid-November last year, Bloomberg Adria reported that the ultimate destination for the lithium extracted in Lopare would be Mercedes. This comes after ARCore entered into a strategic partnership with Rock Tech Lithium, a German-Canadian company that has already signed supply contracts with Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

ARCore and Rock Tech Lithium specifically agreed that they would “regionally source” the lithium from the Lopare mining project, which is 100% owned by ARCore, to supply Rock Tech’s facilities.

ARCore has already sold the unproduced Bosnian lithium

ARCore has already sold the unproduced Bosnian lithium Source: PR Newswire)

Continuing from our previous article on this topic, let’s recall that the Serbian president, in one of his statements, mentioned that the Belgrade government had negotiations with Mercedes. The promise was made that if lithium extraction starts in Serbia, the government would establish an electric car manufacturing plant in the country.

The company conducting the drills estimates that in the Lopare region, there are approximately 1.5 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), 14 million tonnes of boron (B2O3), 35 million tonnes of potassium (KCI), and 94 million tonnes of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). 

The mining area, covering about 25 square kilometers, is located in the Bosnian Serb Republic, approximately 140 kilometers north of Sarajevo. ARCore sees the proximity of key European industries, such as automotive and battery manufacturing, as a significant advantage.

According to the Bloomberg Adria report mentioned earlier, ARCore anticipates that lithium extraction in Lopare could commence in 2026. The Swiss company plans open-pit mining due to the relatively shallow depth of the deposits, approximately 100-200 meters thick, and intends to extract ores through surface mining over about 50 years.

If the project moves forward, Lopare could potentially become one of Europe’s largest lithium mines, with investments ranging from a minimum of 300 million to possibly 700 million euros. This could significantly contribute to Europe’s supply security and reduce dependence on imports in the medium term.

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