Conservatives call on Trudeau government to conduct formal security review on Chinese takeover of Canadian lithium firm – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 14, 2022)

The Conservative Party of Canada is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to conduct a formal national security review on the pending acquisition of Canadian lithium development company Neo Lithium Corp. by Chinese state-owned Zijin Mining Group Ltd.

In October, Zijin announced its intention to buy Toronto-based Neo Lithium for $960-million. Neo Lithium is developing a mine in Argentina and hopes to eventually supply the silvery white mineral to the electric-vehicle industry for batteries.

Last year, Canada designated lithium as a critical mineral, meaning it is essential to the economy. Ottawa and Washington in 2020 finalized a joint action plan on critical minerals, with commitments by both governments to build secure North American supplies of battery minerals, as fears of a growing stranglehold by China on global supplies intensify.

All foreign takeovers of Canadian companies are subject to an initial security screening by Ottawa. If the government suspects the transaction could be a threat to national security, the deal undergoes a more thorough formal review under Section 25.3 of the Investment Canada Act, and could ultimately be blocked.

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