The Guardian reported that local authorities in western Serbia have suspended a plan that would allow the mining company Rio Tinto to operate a lithium mine, after protests by environmentalists that shook the country’s populist leadership. The mining had been expected to start in the near future, but a town council in Loznica voted to suspend a regional development plan that permitted the excavation of lithium. The vote followed the suspension last week of two key laws in Serbia’s parliament that ecologists said would help the multinational firm start the project. Although Rio Tinto said it would adhere to all the latest environmental protection standards, organisers of the weekend protests said the lithium excavation could inflict lasting ecological damage to rivers and farmland in the region. For three consecutive weekends, thousands of protesters in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia blocked main roads and bridges to oppose Rio Tinto’s plan to launch mining operation in the country. Lithium, which is used in batteries for electric cars, is considered one of the most sought-after metals of the future as the world shifts to more renewable energy sources.