BELGRADE (Reuters) – UK mining firm European Nickel met with the local community of a central Serbian village on Tuesday to try to reassure them its potential nickel project would not harm the environment. The firm said it had been granted an exploration license – not a mining license – covering the deposits of Lipovac in central Serbia. It said it had no current plans to start an operation in the country. «Whenever the word ‘mining’ is used, it conjures up a number of misconceptions,» European Nickel’s chairman, Felix Pole, said. «Its old image is associated with scars in the landscape, chimneys belching smoke, and an air of damage and deconstruction.» Pole said although there were many examples like this that remained in former Eastern bloc countries, the industry had changed dramatically. Serb environmentalists and a film director are outraged that the firm plans to explore for nickel in scenic areas and said in January they would fight every inch of the way. European Nickel said its exploration program could take more than a year but would only use a small area of land at any one time.