Ottawa looks on as China buys Canadian lithium operations – by Jeff Kucharski (Toronto Star – January 20, 2022)

Given Canada’s own critical minerals list, and what we already know about China’s determination to achieve global high-tech dominance, there were clear reasons for reviewing the Neo Lithium purchase.

Efforts to strengthen Canada’s supply chains for critical minerals were undermined last week when our own government decided not to conduct a national security review into the purchase of a Canadian lithium producer by a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

The decision is bizarre. Lithium, which is on a list of 31 minerals that Ottawa says are critical to Canada’s economy, is imperative to modern manufacturing, including large-scale battery storage needed for clean energy transition and, significantly, batteries for the flourishing electric vehicle (EV) industry. Now the Zijin Mining Group Ltd is cleared to buy Toronto-based Neo Lithium Corp.

China is establishing global dominance of high-tech manufacturing, including EVs, by having state-owned enterprises acquire foreign intellectual property, technologies and assets. Securing access to critical minerals is essential to that mission.

China already controls a quarter of the world’s supply of lithium-ion batteries, and Canada is a target for acquisitions. In 2018, Vancouver-based Lithium X was purchased by NextView New Energy Lion Hong Kong.

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