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Ottawa’s crackdown on Chinese investment in the critical minerals sector left out major miners, critics say



Critics of the recent move cite the fact that in 2019, the federal government allowed the same Chinese investor, Sinomine, to buy the Tanco mine in Manitoba, the only lithium mine in Canada.George Penner/Handout

This past summer, Power Metals Corp. PWM-X chief executive officer Johnathan More fielded questions from the federal government about the roughly 5-per-cent equity position Chinese state-owned Sinomine Rare Metals Resources Co. held in his tiny exploration company. What struck him was how naive some of the queries were.

“They were coming at us saying, ‘Oh, they’re buying your company, they’re taking you over?’” he said.

“I’m like, ‘no.’ This is how uneducated the government is.”

Patiently, Mr. More explained that Sinomine owned a tiny, non-controlling stake, worth a mere $1.5-million. He told the government the same thing anyone with an internet connection and the most basic grounding in finance could ascertain in a couple of minutes: Power Metals is a very early-stage exploration company, drilling holes in the ground, and there is no guarantee it will ever become a critical minerals producer. (According to the Colorado School of Mines, only about one in 750 exploration projects becomes a mine.)


At the end of the correspondence with Ottawa, Mr. More was pretty sure that the matter was closed and that he’d never hear from anyone in the government again.

Suffice to say, when federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne last month announced he was ordering Sinomine to sell its stake in Power Metals, owing to national security concerns, Mr. More was dumbfounded.

In the announcement, Mr. Champagne gave almost no information on why Ottawa targeted Power Metals and two other small exploration companies, other than the vague statement that the government came to the decision after a national security review of a number of investments in Canadian critical minerals companies, and the review involved “rigorous scrutiny by Canada’s national security and intelligence community.”

Mr. More said he doesn’t believe politicians understand the issue. “I don’t think they even understand how a supply chain works,” he said.

Mr. Champagne declined multiple requests for an interview over the past month.

Mr. More was particularly incensed because Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in 2019 allowed the same Chinese investor, Sinomine, to buy the Tanco mine in Manitoba. Tanco is the only lithium mine in Canada, and Sinomine currently sends the critical mineral back to China for use in the country’s electric-vehicle industry, the very scenario that Canada purports to be trying to prevent.

Power Metals wasn’t the only small critical minerals explorer that was blindsided last month. Mr. Champagne also ordered Chinese investors to divest themselves from Ultra Lithium Inc. and Lithium Chile Inc.

The decision to target Lithium Chile, which has lithium projects in Chile and Argentina, was particularly puzzling. Earlier in the year, Mr. Champagne justified his department’s decision to allow the sale of Neo Lithium Corp., a Canadian lithium development firm, to China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. on grounds that Neo Lithium was only a Canadian company in name.

“The operations of the company are in Argentina, and all but a handful of its employees are based in Argentina,” Mr. Champagne said in testimony to a parliamentary committee in January. Since Neo Lithium’s project in Argentina was located far away from Canada, it wasn’t something Canada’s EV battery supply chain could benefit from, he argued.

Lithium Chile CEO Steven Cochrane wrote in an e-mail that after Mr. Champagne’s order that it rid itself of its Chinese investor, the company was “caught completely by surprise.” Furthermore, Mr. Cochrane said, when Chengze Lithium International Ltd. took its stake in his company, the government told Lithium Chile that it was “compliant with all the rules.”

The Liberals in their decision last month also left completely untouched ginormous Canadian companies with huge critical minerals mines in operation that have accepted tens of billions of dollars in investment from China over the past decade. In turn, there’s potential for influence by the Communist Party of China. These companies include Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. IVN-T, Teck Resources Ltd. TECK-B-T Ltd. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. FM-T

Also, if Ottawa’s objective was to zero in exclusively on small Canadian critical minerals companies with Chinese investors, then Vancouver-based Nickel North Exploration Corp. NNX-X should have been targeted. It lists Sinotech Hong Kong Corp. as its top investor. In fact, Sinotech owns about half the equity in the development firm, and has funnelled in around $6-million over the past decade.

However, Nickel North’s CEO, Tony Guo, a Chinese national, said he hasn’t heard anything from the government about any potential forced divestment from Sinotech.

Mr. Guo also pointed out that a representative with the Ministry of Natural Resources attended a ceremony celebrating the investment from China in Nickel North in 2012.

“Canada was promoting itself to try to attract investors from China,” Mr. Guo said.

It would appear that Mr. Guo can rest easy because the federal government doesn’t have the ability to scrutinize the investment even if it wanted.

Laurie Bouchard, spokeswoman for Mr. Champagne, wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that the orders for divestitures “were the result of reviews that were in front of our national security experts at that time.” She added that reviews “cannot be conducted retroactively.”

It is unclear whether Ottawa has ever thought about changing the Investment Canada Act to allow it to conduct security reviews retroactively. It’s a direction other more forward-thinking resource nations are headed.

Australia has been far more aggressive on Chinese investment into its resource sector, and the country updated its rules last year in this regard. It introduced a new “last resort” power, under which the government can review previously approved transactions if national security risks emerge at a later date and, if necessary, impose new restrictions and limitations on investments.

When it comes to decisions around national security, the Canadian federal government’s continued lack of transparency is troubling, said Wesley Wark, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

“There’s no transparency requirements imposed on the minister or the Governor in Council to provide some minimal explanation for either foreign direct investment that is approved when it is controversial, or FDI that is blocked, or where there’s a divestiture order,” he said.

The process is “embedded in this unnecessary secrecy,” he said.


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Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto



For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – February 2, 2023 – Today, Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights Alphabet GOOGL, Tesla TSLA, Shopify SHOP, Amazon AMZN and Palo Alto Networks PANW.

Which of These Stocks Has Been the Best Buy, Post-Split?

Stock splits have been a regular occurrence in the market over the last several years, with many companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares and knock down barriers for potential investors.

Of course, it’s important to remember that a split doesn’t directly impact a company’s financial standing or performance.

In 2022, several companies performed splits, including Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto Networks. Below is a chart illustrating the performance of all five stocks over the last year, with the S&P 500 blended in as a benchmark.


As we can see, PANW shares have been the best performers over the last year, the only to outperform the general market.

However, which has turned in a better performance post-split? Let’s take a closer look.


We’re all familiar with Tesla, which has revolutionized the EV (electric vehicle) industry. It’s been one of the best-performing stocks over the last decade, quickly becoming a favorite among investors.

Earlier in June of 2022, the mega-popular EV manufacturer announced that its board approved a three-for-one stock split; shares began trading on a split-adjusted basis on August 25th, 2022.

Since the split, Tesla shares have lost roughly 40% in value, widely underperforming relative to the S&P 500.

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks offers network security solutions to enterprises, service providers, and government entities worldwide.

PANW’s three-for-one stock split in mid-September seemingly flew under the radar. The company’s shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on September 14th, 2022.

Following the split, PANW shares have struggled to gain traction, down roughly 15% compared to the S&P 500’s 3.3% gain.


Shopify provides a multi-tenant, cloud-based, multi-channel e-commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses.

SHOP shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 29th, 2022; the company performed a 10-for-1 split.

Impressively, Shopify shares have soared for a 50% gain since the split, crushing the general market’s performance.


Alphabet has evolved from primarily being a search engine into a company with operations in cloud computing, ad-based video and music streaming, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Last February, the tech titan announced a 20-for-1 split, and investors cheered on the news – GOOGL shares climbed 7% the day following the announcement. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on July 18th, 2022.

Alphabet shares have sailed through challenging waters since the split, down 10% and lagging behind the S&P 500.


Amazon has evolved into an e-commerce giant with global operations. The company also enjoys a dominant position within the cloud computing space with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) operations.

AMZN’s 20-for-1 split was a bit of a surprise, as it was the company’s first split since 1999. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 6th, 2022.

Following the split, Amazon shares have lost roughly 18% in value, well off the general market’s performance.

Bottom Line

Stock splits are typically exciting announcements that investors can receive, with companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares.

Interestingly enough, only Shopify shares reside in the green post-split of the five listed.

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Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.


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$13 million investment in Campbellford Memorial Hospital



The Campbellford Memorial Hospital will be receiving a $13 million investment from the Ontario Government to address infrastructure concerns.

The announcement was made at the hospital by Northumberland—Peterborough South MPP David Piccini.

The $13 million is broken down as follows:

  • $9,639,900 will be going to CMH as one-time capital funding to address the HVAC and generator
  • $1,874,929 for reimbursement of CMH’s COVID-19-related capital expenses
  • $771,797 in COVID-19 incremental operating funding
  • up to $600,000 in one-time funding to support the hospital’s in-year financial and operating pressures
  • $163,600 in pandemic prevention and containment funding
  • $81,132 through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund
  • $46,884 in health human resources funding.

Interim President and CEO Eric Hanna welcomed the news, saying much needs to be done about the HVAC and generator.


At the announcement, Hanna spoke of the issues with the generator.

“I’ve got the wee little generator up at the lake and then I’m thinking well, everything should be going well at the hospital,” Hanna told the audience in attendance.

“You get a call from the person in charge who says, ‘Guess what Eric? Generator didn’t start. Oh, so what does that mean? There’s no power in the hospital.’  That’s happened a couple of times in the past year and the generator is over 30 years old.”

Hanna says the solution was not as easy as replacing the generator.

“You can go buy the generator and that may be about a million dollars. But then when we found out afterwards, we came to hook up the new generator to the electrical distribution system and said it won’t work with that because your electrical distribution system is 1956. You can’t plug this generator into that. So now we’re putting close to $5 million into a whole electrical distribution system so the generator will work. It’s part of that ongoing thing and that’s why these costs continue to go up.”

The HVAC system was also something addressed by Hanna.

“It’s a contract close to $7 million to replace that. This wing, for example. There’s no fresh air in this wing. It hasn’t worked in here for 15 years. So now this is administrative areas and the concern was that in some of the patient carriers, it wasn’t working either.  So – having those discussions with David (Piccini) and saying what we have to do to correct this.”


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Chile’s Enap Set to Slash Debt Burden That Weighed on Investment



(Bloomberg) — Enap, Chile’s state oil and gas company, plans to use near-record earnings to slash its debt burden, while increasing investment in its refineries and in exploration and production.

The company aims to reduce its debt load to about $3 billion “medium term” from the current $4.3 billion, Chief Executive Officer Julio Friedmann said in an interview. Plans include a bond sale in the first half of this year to refinance some securities.

The improved financial position — with 2022 profit surging to $575 million — comes after Enap’s oil and gas operations in Egypt, Ecuador and Argentina got a boost from high crude prices, while healthy international refining margins benefited plants in Chile. Those trends are expected to extend into this year and next, enabling the company to pre-pay some short-term obligations. About half of the current debt burden matures in the next three years.

“We are going to issue bonds,” the MIT-trained executive said Wednesday from the Aconcagua refinery in central Chile. “We are closely evaluating the local and international markets.”


At the same time, Friedmann, who took the reins at Enap in November, plans to increase capital expenditure to about $700 million this year from $550 million last year.

The increase comes after underinvestment in the past few years because of Covid restrictions and the heavy debt load. Spending will focus on making treatment processes cleaner and upgrading infrastructure, as well as a more aggressive approach to increasing gas reserves in the far south of the country, he said.

Gas Markets

Enap plans to expand in both liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas markets in Chile, focusing on the wholesale business and eventually selling directly to large-scale consumers such as mines. Organizational changes to enable the expansion will be announced soon. There are no plans to enter the final distribution business, Friedmann said. The company wants to supply more gas to southern cities as a way of replacing dirtier fuels such as wood and diesel.

Enap and its partners are also preparing pipelines and a refinery near Concepcion to start receiving crude from Argentina’s Neuquen basin sometime this year in an arrangement that could supply as much as 30% of its needs.

While there’s plenty of potential do collaborate more with energy-rich Argentina, particularly in the Magallanes area, that would require greater long-term visibility on supplies from the neighboring country, Friedmann said.

He sees a role for Enap in the development of green hydrogen in Chile. It’s in talks with three companies to enable its facilities in Magallanes to be used to receive all the wind turbines, electrolyzers and other equipment that will be needed to make the clean fuel. Enap is also evaluating its own small pilot plants and will consider whether to take up options to enter other green hydrogen projects as an equity partner.

While the company will maintain its focus on meeting rising demand for traditional fuels, it anticipates new regulation that will require lower emissions. It’s also looking closely at clean-fuel options for aviation, Friedmann said.

(Adds clean fuel plans in last paragraph. I previous version corrected spelling of CEO’s surname.)


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