OTTAWA, Ontario — Three Chinese companies have been ordered to sell lithium mining assets to Canada after the country’s government imposed limits on foreign participation in the supply of “critical minerals” used in batteries and products. high tech.
The order comes Wednesday as tensions between the West and China mount over control of sources of lithium, rare earths, cadmium and other minerals used in cellphones, wind turbines, solar cells, electric cars and other emerging technologies.
Chinese miners are investing in production in Africa, Latin America, Canada and elsewhere as the ruling Communist Party promotes the development of electric cars, clean energy and other tech industries.
Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne last week announced restrictions on the involvement of foreign state-owned companies in the production of “critical minerals”. He said investments of any size would only be approved on an “exceptional” basis.
The Chinese government criticized the order as a violation of market principles and called on Canada to reverse its decision.
“Canada has broadened the concept of national security and placed obstacles to normal investment and business cooperation between Chinese and Canadian companies,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “We urge Canada to end the undue repression of Chinese businesses and instead provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for them to operate. »
Western governments want industrial supply chains controlled by allies following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which disrupted global oil and gas markets, and tensions with China, which produces most of the world’s rare earths.
Sinomine (Hong Kong) Rare Metals Resources has been ordered to sell its stake in Vancouver-based Power Metals Corp., which has exploration projects for lithium, cesium and tantalum in northern Ontario .
Chengze Lithium International Ltd. is required to divest its interests in Lithium Chile Inc., a Calgary company with ongoing lithium projects in Chile. Zangge Mining Investment has been ordered to sell its stake in Vancouver-based Ultra Lithium Inc., which has lithium and gold projects in Canada and Argentina.
Canada welcomes foreign investment but “will act decisively when investment threatens our national security and critical mineral supply chains,” Champagne said in a statement.