Back on November 2, 2022, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced: “the Government of Canada has ordered the divestiture of the following investments by foreign investors in Canadian critical mineral companies:
- Sinomine (Hong Kong) Rare Metals Resources Co., Limited is required to divest itself of its investment in Power Metals Corp.
- Chengze Lithium International Limited is required to divest itself of its investment in Lithium Chile Inc.
- Zangge Mining Investment (Chengdu) Co., Ltd. is required to divest itself of its investment in Ultra Lithium Inc.”
The divestitures Minister Champagne ordered were all China controlled companies. For some reason however, another Chinese controlled company; MMG Limited, wasn’t included in the order despite the fact their mining rights include both copper and zinc. Copper is considered a “critical mineral” associated with the manufacture of EV batteries and zinc appears to be an upcoming “critical mineral” based on some recent news and patents filed! Zinc based batteries reputedly offer improved intrinsic safety over lithium-ion batteries aligned with a high energy storage capability.
Hmm; was the omission of MMG Limited intentional or simply missed?
One should note the Trudeau government was certainly aware of MMG’s longstanding mining rights as pointed out in a September 19, 2021 article about the Strathmere Group. The article said: “suddenly back on August 13, 2019 Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport announced a project: “$21.5 million to complete preparatory work necessary for the first phase of construction of the Grays Bay Road and Port Project. The proposed 230-kilometre all-season road would be the first road to connect Nunavut to the rest of Canada.“
That project, co-incidentally, was seen as the means to cash in on the opening of the Arctic, something China had attempted to accomplish back in 2011 via a Chinese company with mining rights (MMG Limited) and whose principal shareholder was the Chinese government. At that time MMG backed away from further plans as the cost of the roads and port made it too costly! As noted in an article in the Walrus on January 4, 2021, “The vast mineral deposits of zinc and copper near Izok Lake, in the Northwest Territories, lay glittering but ultimately untouchable“ until Garneau’s pledge. Shortly after the pledge by Garneau, Mr. G. Gao, CEO of MMG in a press release said; “On behalf of MMG, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Canadian government for their support and funding,”.
The Walrus article went on stating: “CHINA’S GROWING INTEREST in the Canadian Arctic, one of the least defended regions on earth, has been a calculated move. In 2013, despite not being one of the eight Arctic nations, China gained official observer status at the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum, and later declared itself a “near-Arctic state”—a phrase that seems to ignore the 5,000 kilometres between its northernmost point and the Arctic Circle.”
It seems ironic Garneau’s Bill C-48 designed to halt Canadian fossil fuel exports from Canada’s west coast was passed just two months earlier before he turned around and catered to Chinese interests in obtaining critical minerals associated with EV battery manufacturing by China. With Champagne announcing the required divesture of critical mineral mining rights by those three Chinese companies one should wonder; why wasn’t MMG Limited included? Don’t these ministers talk, or do they simply take orders from above?
MMG’s website states: “MMG’s major shareholder is China Minmetals Corporation (CMC). Founded in 1950, CMC is one of China’s major multinational state-owned enterprises. CMC’s subsidiary China Minmetals H.K. (Holdings) Limited (Minmetals HK) currently owns approximately 67.68% of the total shares of MMG, with the remaining 32.32% owned by public shareholders including global resources and investment funds.”
MMG’s Press Release after Garneau made the announcement had this to say:
“The Izok Corridor Project includes the Izok and High Lake deposits located in Nunavut in the Canadian arctic within a geological formation known as the Slave Geological Province. Izok is a zinc/copper deposit with a Mineral Resource of 15 million tonnes at 13% zinc and 2.3% copper. The High Lake deposit, located north of Izok, has a Mineral Resource of 14 million tonnes at 3.8% zinc and 2.5% copper. The Izok Corridor Project offers the potential for significant socio-economic contributions to the Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Canadian economies.”
The press release went on to note: “Project development requires construction of a 325-kilometre all-weather road, as well as a deep-water port on the Arctic Ocean to facilitate transportation of metal concentrates to overseas markets. MMG also holds several other base metal deposits and exploration tenements in this highly prospective region.“
It seems obvious MMG will not finance either the road or the port and will not exploit their mining rights unless they are complete and paid for by Canadian taxpayers. On the question of costs to complete the road and the port it is extremely difficult, nay impossible, to find factual estimates. A 2021 Government Environmental Scan however did state: “Steady growth is expected on the Territories’ construction sector as a number of new projects are expected to begin shortly. For instance, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association is proceeding with its Grays Bay Road and Port project in Nunavut following a nearly two-year delay as a result of COVID-19 and rising construction costs. The estimated $550M project includes a 227-km all-weather road and a deep-sea port at Grays Bay on Coronation Gulf.“ One should note the Government of Canada’s “scan” suggests their estimated cost covered only 227-km of the 325-km “all-weather road” touted by MMG and it wasn’t specific on the individual costs of either the road or the port! No matter, though if all the costs are paid by the Federal and Territorial governments it will be the Canadian taxpayers who are paying for both!
If the foregoing costs of the road and the port fall on the backs of Canadian taxpayers, we should view it as the Trudeau government simply handing out our tax dollars to China so that can mine our resources, ship them to China for processing and use them to manufacture EV batteries. This may well happen despite the billions of dollars the Federal and Provincial (Ontario and Quebec) have promised to auto makers and future battery manufacturers.
When the foregoing happens, we taxpayers can sit back and repeat what our PM Trudeau said: “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime“. The last few words of his comment might be altered to; “to turn their economy around on a few billion of Canadian taxpayer dollars”