Ottawa has ordered three Chinese groups to sell their shares in Canadian key resource enterprises. The move occurred after a defense and intelligence review confirmed that the investments posed a threat to the country’s national security.
Canada forced Sinomine (Hong Kong) Rare Metals Resources to sell its share in Canadian lithium miner Power Metals.
Ottawa also asked Chengze Lithium International to sell its stake in Lithium Chile and Zangge Mining Investment (Chengdu) to divest its investment in Canadian resource developer Ultra Lithium.
Roland Paris is an expert on foreign policy in Ottawa. He said that the decision shows a more hardening approach to Chinese companies. It also comes after an announcement that Canada would not allow state-owned entities to invest in its critical mineral companies, except in a very special case.
Canada’s industry minister François-Philippe Champagne said the country would “act decisively when investments threaten our national security and our critical minerals supply chains.”
Nazak Nikakhtar, a former U.S. commerce department official, said the move marked “a shift in Canadian national security policy from traditional national security risks to critical supply chain risks,” and this is important.
The move might be a part of the U.S.’s campaign to reduce U.S. reliance on China for the refinement of critical minerals. The process is crucial to manufacturing everything from weapons such as missiles to green products like electric vehicles.
Washington is also pressuring its allies’ companies to cut their reliance on Chinese industry.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister, recently also talked about boosting economic links among democratic allies. She also emphasized Canada’s role as a supplier of critical minerals.
The race for resources will intensify. According to the International Energy Association, in 20 years, the amount of lithium used worldwide will increase more than ten times. Its growth is due to the switch from fossil fuels to electric cars and energy storage.
And for years, China has been the biggest buyer of minerals used in clean tech technology. Even though China only mines 13% of the world’s lithium, its refineries process more than half of it.