Mike Waltz Presses Biden Administration on Chinese Purchase of Canadian-Owned Mine

Last week, U.S. Reps. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., Elise Stefanik, R-NY, and Lance Gooden, R-Texas, sent a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Anthony Blinken, U.S. Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Sec. of Interior Debra Haaland, U.S. Sec. of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Sec. of Energy Jennifer Granholm pressing the Biden administration on its knowledge and involvement in the Chinese state-owned acquisition of Neo Lithium Corp and the results of the U.S.-Canada Joint Action Plan for Critical Minerals Cooperation (Action Plan).

The letter raises questions regarding whether the United States was notified during Action Plan engagements or dialogues of the pending acquisition by the Chinese state-owned firm Zijin Mining Group Ltd and why a United States review did not occur. Days after the Canadian government consented to the agreement, Argentina joined China’s Belt and Road initiative.

“Just this week the Biden administration touted its efforts to secure domestic supply of critical minerals that economic, energy, and national security relies, yet our neighbors in Canada, that we have an existing Action Plan to address this very issue with, have rubber-stamped the Chinese Communist Party’s acquisition of a lithium mine in the Western Hemisphere,” said Waltz. “A sale of this magnitude to our greatest global adversary is deeply concerning and runs counter to the stated goal of securing a critical mineral supply chain for the U.S. and our allies. The United States and Canada have been collaborating within an Action Plan for two years, this result raises serious questions about the attention and progress the two countries are putting into securing the critical mineral supply chain.”

“The Chinese Communist Party’s influence and control over U.S. supply chains is reason for concern for every American,” said Stefanik. “The Chinese takeover of a Canadian mining company further threatens North American supply chains, and Americans deserve to know how this transaction came about and whether it was in accordance with the U.S.-Canada Joint Action Plan. I’m pushing for transparency, so Congress can ensure U.S.-Canadian resources are not further jeopardized by the Chinese Communist Party.”

“Canada’s decision to allow the sale of a lithium mine to a Chinese company undermines the national security of both our nations and the American people deserve to know if the Biden administration was aware or did anything to prevent it from occurring,” said Gooden. “China will stop at nothing to monopolize the global critical mineral supply and it is vital the United States and our allies work together to prevent this.”

:The letter prods at why the Action Plan document is an ‘internal’ government document, unavailable to the public. This has resulted in opaque engagements between the two countries. The American people deserve an update on the Action Plan engagements that President Biden pledged to ‘strengthen,’” Waltz’s office noted.

The letter lays out additional concerns and includes the following:

In February 2021, President Biden announced agreement to “strengthen” the Action Plan. Since then, it has been reported that Secretary Raimando and other federal officials have agreed to meet quarterly with Canadian counterparts to discuss supply chains, including critical minerals.…

We understand that at a minimum, the Action Plan is intended to spark collaboration for sharing information and analysis, and to promote overall coordination in the interest of securing the U.S.-Canada supply chain for critical minerals. This interagency effort is intended to include industry across a broad range of strategic sectors. We would expect the working group or sub-groups to consider acquisition strategies, information sharing, monitoring foreign ownership and control of industry investments (including downstream), identifying data gaps, prioritizing minerals with disruption vulnerabilities and greatest demand, project financing, licensing and rights agreements, processing agreements, and minority shareholdings considerations.

We are requesting a briefing regarding previous Action Plan working group engagements, initiatives, dialogues, recommendations, and information. We also seek all plans for the “strengthened” Action Plan. Additionally, we ask that any notification or communication between the Canadian government and United States agencies regarding the Neo Lithium acquisition be provided in the brief, plus a legal justification for the United States not conducting a formal review of the transaction, and transcripts from Secretary Raimondo’s November meetings with Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne. If any information to be covered in such brief is classified (as in Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States jurisdiction), we will accommodate a secure space at the Capitol for the discussion.

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