Australia blocks acquisition of lithium mine by Chinese language-linked agency | mining



Treasurer Jim Challers blocks Astrod Corp. from buying Alita Assets after funding board recommendation.

Australia has blocked the takeover of financially strapped lithium miner Alita Assets by a Chinese language-linked firm after recommendation from Australia’s Overseas Funding Evaluation Board, Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers mentioned.

Chalmers issued a restraining order stopping Astrod Corp. from buying a further 90.10 % of lithium miner Alita Assets, which might convey its stake to 100%. Astrod Australia, the native subsidiary of US-based Astrod, has additionally blocked a proposal to accumulate Alita outright, a restraining order reveals.

Astrod Australia’s director is a Chinese language nationwide with expertise within the Chinese language mining trade, firm filings present.

Alita has been underneath administration since 2019. Astrod mentioned in an announcement on Friday that it was “stunned and dissatisfied” by the choice to dam the takeover deal that might have transformed debt to fairness, and mentioned it had but to totally perceive the implications for the operation of the Bald Hill lithium mine, which exports to China.

A spokesman for Chalmers mentioned in an announcement to Reuters information company: “The Treasury has issued a prohibition order which is in step with the recommendation of the Overseas Funding Evaluation Board.”

Chalmers’ workplace declined to say whether or not acquisitions have been blocked on nationwide curiosity grounds.

Astroid Company’s director is Mike Que, the submitting reveals. He’s the son of Que Wenbin, who has a serious curiosity in Chinese language lithium battery maker Sichuan Western Assets.

Que can be a director of the Alita subsidiary that operates the Bald Hill lithium mine. He was additionally the only director at China Hydrogen Vitality Restricted (CHEL), a Cayman Islands firm, which didn’t get FIRB approval for its 2019 takeover bid for Alita, firm filings present.

In a speech final 12 months, Chalmers mentioned Australia, the world’s high lithium provider, can be extra selective in permitting it to put money into its fragile mineral trade.

China has criticized Australia for blocking Chinese language funding on nationwide safety grounds, and China’s high diplomat, Wang Yi, mentioned final week after a gathering with Australian Overseas Minister Penny Wang that Australia ought to “present a non-discriminatory enterprise surroundings for Chinese language enterprises to take a position” in Australia.

“The federal government doesn’t touch upon requests for international funding screening preparations,” a Chalmers spokesman mentioned.

China dominates the processing of crucial minerals. More than 80% of global rare earth productionand has main investments in lithium and different mining and processing operations in Australia, Africa and South America.

Alita’s directors, McGrath Nicol, mentioned in a discover to shareholders on Wednesday that Ostrow had mentioned it had withdrawn its software to the Overseas Funding Evaluation Board and supposed to make a brand new software.

“Ostrod is shocked and dissatisfied by this resolution,” Ostrod mentioned in an announcement.

“We’re at a whole loss to know the explanations for this resolution, concerning our full cooperation and detailed responses to the questions requested by the FIRB,” it added.

Ostrow mentioned it had invested closely in Bald Hill to permit it to renew operations in 2022 after directors have been appointed in 2019.


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