Three Chinese lithium companies operating in Canada have been ordered by the Canadian government to divest all their lithium mining holdings in the country in light of new restrictions against foreign participation in the increasingly competitive critical minerals sector.
According to Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Innovation, the said restrictions apply to the ability of foreign state-owned firms to produce critical minerals like lithium, nickel, and cadmium, all of which are necessary for the production of electric vehicle batteries and other renewable power solutions like solar cells and wind turbines. Champagne added that any level of investment by foreign entities, especially those wherein governments could intervene directly, will only be accepted on an extraordinary basis.
Champagne further remarked that, while Canada does welcome foreign investments, it will not look kindly upon those which threaten the nation’s security and critical mineral supply chains, and will act accordingly.
Issued on Wednesday, November 9th, the Canadian government’s move is seen as a key milestone in the ongoing conflict between Eastern and Western nations over who will wield control over the supply of lithium and other essential minerals and metals deemed necessary for the industry in the 21st century.
Canada is currently poised to become a key player in the global lithium game, particularly with Quebec and Ontario taking the lead, as large hard-rock spodumene deposits have been discovered within the country, along with a number of brine-based lithium resources.
Which Companies Have Been Asked to Leave?
Hong Kong-based Sinomine Rare Metals Resources is one of the three companies that have been asked to withdraw from the Canadian mineral mining and processing sectors. The company was asked to sell all its shares in the Vancouver-based mineral exploration firm Power Metals Corporation, which has lithium, tantalum, and cesium interests in northern Ontario.
Chengze Lithium International Ltd., on the other hand, has been ordered to divest its shares in Calgary firm Lithium Chile Inc. which has a number of active lithium interests in the South American Nation.
Likewise, all holdings and interests held by Zangge Mining Investment in another company located in Vancouver, Ultra Lithium Inc., are expected to be sold. Ultra Lithium currently has gold and lithium holdings both locally and in Argentina.
Canada’s action against these Chinese firms is part of an ongoing push by western nations to have its industrial supply chains handled by allies rather than China which, at present, holds the bulk of rare earth production.