Chinese lithium giant Ganfeng’s role in Nevada mining project raises fears that Democrats’ push for green energy will benefit the communist nation
colin anderson • September 21, 2022, 4:59 a.m.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is backing a foreign company’s plan to deliver America’s green energy future through a massive lithium mine in Nevada. The main shareholder of this company is a Chinese company run by known members of the Chinese Communist Party, which raises fears that the project will ultimately benefit America’s main adversary.
Sisolak in September 2020 approved $8.5 million in tax breaks for Lithium Americas, a Canadian company that plans to extract tens of thousands of tonnes of lithium – the key component of electric vehicle batteries – from a site in northern Nevada. Another Nevada Democrat, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, met with company executives in 2019 and two years later persuaded her Hill colleagues to drop legislation that would have imposed costly levies on Lithium Americas. and other hardrock miners.
Both Sisolak and Cortez Masto have argued that lithium mining in Nevada will accelerate America’s clean energy economy by securing a domestic supply chain for crucial minerals, a sector dominated by China. But these arguments ignore the arguments of Lithium Americas main shareholder—Chinese mining giant Ganfeng, which holds a seat on the board of Lithium Americas and “may…be able to affect the operations and direction of the business,” according to the latest report from Lithium Americas Annual Report.
Ganfeng’s influence over Lithium Americas raises concerns that Sisolak and Cortez Masto’s green energy push could support the Chinese Communist Party, especially given Ganfeng’s close ties to Beijing. Ganfeng chairman Li Liangbin, for example, holds positions on a range of committees and advisory boards that feed into the Chinese Communist Party, and the company’s 2021 annual report describes board member Yu Jianguo as “a member of the Chinese Communist Party”. Additionally, Ganfeng executive vice president Wang Xiaoshen, who sits on the board of Lithium Americas, “has established himself in the lithium business with China State-Owned Enterprises,” according to a 2011 press release. .
China already controls about 60% of the world’s lithium resources thanks in part to Ganfeng. With the support for Chinese public banks, the company has acquired significant stakes in lithium mining projects in Chile, Argentina and Australia. Now, Ganfeng could expand its footprint in the United States for the first time, prompting former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express extreme concern over the Chinese company’s large stake in Lithium Americas and its ties. with the Chinese government. If the project were to go ahead, Pompeo explained, China would “gain a foothold in America in lithium mining.”
“The United States government has a responsibility to look through this facade, this corporate entity that faces the Chinese Communist Party, and prevent them from moving forward,” Pompeo told the newspaper. Free Washington Beacon. “It is clearly an intention of the Chinese Communist Party to control the entire green energy supply chain. They want a monopoly on lithium, and allow them to do so by presenting themselves through a Canadian entity is dangerous.” The United States Treasury Department has the ability to prevent this from happening, and they should.”
Lithium Americas played down its connection to China, telling the Free tag that although Ganfeng has direct ownership in another Lithium Americas mine in Argentina, the company “owns 100%” of its Nevada project and remains “focused on selling to US-focused customers to strengthen the chain of national supply of batteries”. Still, Lithium Americas confirmed both Ganfeng’s 11.1% stake in the company and Wang’s role on the company’s board. Lithium Americas management and directors, on the other hand, own a 5.6% stake in the company, according to its September report. corporate presentation. No company or person other than Ganfeng owns more than 10% of the shares of Lithium Americas, the company in 2022 report to shareholders States.
Neither Sisolak nor Cortez Masto returned requests for comment. Sisolak in September 2020 said he was “grateful” for Lithium Americas’ “major” investment in Nevada. About two years later, in July, the Democrat said Nevada ‘leading the way to clean energy’ thanks to Lithium Americas work with the University of Nevada-Reno to “help identify and advance new processes for the electrification and battery industry.” Cortez Masto, meanwhile, is known as a “fierce critic of policy proposals that would create new rules around mining” and argued that President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which assigned $17 billion in loans to “support the national battery supply chain” would “benefit national security by leveling the playing field with China.”
Now, China-linked companies such as Lithium Americas could take advantage of the loans. In April, the company announcement his “submission of a formal loan application to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program”, a funding source that Lithium Americas waits will cover “the majority” of “capital costs” arising from its Nevada mine, which sits on the largest known lithium reserve in the United States.
It is unclear whether the company’s ties to Beijing will deter its loan application. Ganfeng invested $174 million in Lithium Americas in 2017, and Li has gained considerable political influence in China since the deal. A 2019 Foreign Police report, for example, states that in 2018 Li joined the Standing Committee of the 12th Political Consultative Conference of Jiangxi Province. And in June, Li became a elected leader of the China Association for Democratic Construction, a Chinese Communist Party front group that last week released a report pledging to adhere to the Communist leadership and “unswervingly follow the party.”
Beyond Biden’s infrastructure bill for 2021, Lithium Americas — and, by proxy, Ganfeng — has benefited from the Democrats’ so-called Cut Inflation Act, which invests $370 billion in green energy. Lithium Americas CEO Jonathan Evans went into ‘full celebration’ after Biden signed the legislation, which was ‘full of benefits for the mining industry’, according to E&E news. “It’s a big deal. We’re excited about it,” Evans said of the law in August. A few weeks later, Biden brought in John Podesta, who encouraged Chinese investment in US infrastructure, to oversee the hundreds of billions of dollars in legislated climate spending.
Lithium Americas plans to meet a quarter of global lithium demand from its Nevada mine, according to Really clear surveys. The company waits “the construction of the first works” at the mine is due to begin “later this year”.