The deal went through swiftly – and almost immediately prompted calls for a national security review. Just three months after Chinese-state-owned Zijin Mining Group announced its US$960 million plans to buy Canadian miner Neo Lithium, the proposal was signed, screened and delivered.
At a corporate level, the deal made sense. Neo Lithium’s biggest mine operation is in Argentina, where Zijin already has interests and plans to build a lithium carbonate plant. Canadian officials also said carmakers in North America were unlikely to use lithium produced so far away.
But lithium is an essential mineral and the speed of the deal raised calls from lawmakers and security experts in Canada that such agreements with Chinese companies should be subjected to more thorough review.
The backlash highlights growing concerns in the West over China’s control of supply chains for strategic minerals as well as a divide between national interests and corporate priorities.
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