Chinese bots spread disinformation about Canadian rare earths company in targeted attack, report alleges – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – June 28, 2022)

A prominent U.S. cybersecurity firm is alleging that Chinese government-funded campaigns are spreading disinformation about Canadian rare earths miner Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp. in an attempt to cement China’s dominance in the sector and crush Canadian ambitions.

Virginia-based Mandiant Inc., which was founded by former U.S. government security experts, said in a report that Toronto-based Appia and two other rare earth companies, Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. and USA Rare Earth LLC, were targeted by an online network called Dragonbridge, a front for the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Since rare earths mineral mining is of strategic significance to the PRC, and these entities are challenging the PRC’s global market dominance in that industry, our experts believe Dragonbridge is targeting this sector to maintain its advantage,” Mandiant wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

Rare earths are used in a range of high-tech, clean technology and military applications. They are mined in vanishingly small quantities compared with bulk commodities such as copper. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, China controls about 80 per cent of the rare earths industry, while Canada currently only has one small rare earths mine in operation.

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