Rebuffing Yuxiao Fund’s Advances
Northern Minerals, a critical minerals company, has thwarted a takeover bid by the Yuxiao Fund, a Chinese investment entity. The fund, holding a near 10 percent stake in Northern Minerals, sought to displace executive chairman Nick Curtis and demanded access to the company’s records. However, Northern Minerals declared the fund’s requisition invalid after an extensive review.
Tension Over Control of Browns Range Project
At the heart of this dispute is the Browns Range project in Western Australia, owned by Northern Minerals. The site, known for its extensive dysprosium and terbium resources crucial for high-performance magnets and batteries, has become a strategic asset. Yuxiao Fund’s move to increase its influence over Northern Minerals has raised national security concerns, leading to intervention by Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers earlier this year.
Government Intervention and FIRB Review
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has been closely monitoring the situation, especially after Northern Minerals flagged potential covert control attempts by the Yuxiao Fund and its associated entities. Treasurer Chalmers previously barred the fund from expanding its stake beyond 9.98 percent, citing national interest.
Postponed Annual Meeting Amidst Tensions
Northern Minerals has delayed its annual meeting to February 29, awaiting the FIRB’s findings. The original meeting was scheduled to consider Yuxiao Fund’s proposal to appoint Wu Tao, the fund’s controller, and other directors potentially linked to the fund.
Strategic Importance of Browns Range
Browns Range’s significance extends beyond mining; it is integral to national security and the global supply chain. The operation’s potential Chinese control poses a substantial risk, prompting close government scrutiny. Iluka Resources, constructing Australia’s first integrated rare earths refinery with federal backing, is also a financial supporter of the project.
Ongoing Investigations and Shareholder Concerns
Northern Minerals continues to investigate the recent share purchasing activities linked to Wu Tao and the Yuxiao Fund. The scrutiny extends to other board candidates, as the company seeks to discern possible connections with other shareholders. These developments are under FIRB review, with Northern Minerals committed to keeping stakeholders informed.
Northern Minerals’ stance remains firm against the Chinese fund’s attempts, highlighting the geopolitical sensitivities surrounding critical mineral resources.