Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Ed Fast, Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, issued the following statement on the testimony of Industry Minister Francois-Philipe Champagne yesterday before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) on its review of the takeover of Canadian lithium company, Neo Lithium Corp. by Chinese state-owned Zijin Mining, without the Liberal government subjecting the transaction to a full national security review:

“Yesterday, the Minister of Industry refused to answer basic questions about the sale of a strategic Canadian miner to a Chinese state-owned company. These questions include, when did he first learn of the transaction? When was he briefed by officials? Did he consult with Canada’s Public Safety Minister, the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor, or our American allies in accordance with the Canada-US Critical Minerals Action Plan? Will China’s dominance of the global lithium market negatively impact Canada’s economic interests?

“The facts are clear. Industry Minister Champagne fast-tracked the approval process for the billion-dollar sale of Neo Lithium without taking the proper time to assess the national security risks of allowing a Canadian lithium miner to be taken over by a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Minerals like lithium are critical to our efforts to build a “made in Canada” electric vehicle and battery industry, and the Trudeau government’s reckless willingness to allow a Canadian lithium producer to be sold to Zijin Mining betrays its commitment to protecting critical mineral supply chains.

“Most importantly, the Minister wouldn’t answer why he failed to follow his own updated guidelines for enhanced national security reviews for transactions involving critical minerals and state-owned enterprises. As other experts at committee had noted, a proper national security risk assessment of the Neo Lithium sale to a Chinese state-owned enterprise could not have been completed within a short 45 days.

“Canada can be a leader in the ethical and environmentally sustainable mining of critical minerals, but only if we take this issue seriously, work with our allies, and protect North American critical mineral supply chains. Canada’s Conservatives will continue to be the voice for those who are concerned about protecting our access to critical minerals like lithium and building our own home-grown electric vehicle industry.”