The Canadian government has commenced a national security review of Shandong Gold’s purchase of the TMAC Resources Hope Bay mine in northern Nunavut. 

TMAC first announced the review on Thursday and claimed that the purchase of the mine by China would have a “strong overall net benefit to Canada and does not pose a security risk.”

“Given the extended timelines under the Investment Canada Act, the Company expects closing of the Transaction to occur in the first quarter of 2021,” said a TMAC press release.

“TMAC and Shandong remain committed to working with the Investment Review Division to obtain approval of the Transaction.”

National security and intelligence experts have warned that purchases of Canadian resources by foreign powers could put the country at risk. 

Shortly after the purchase was announced, former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Richard Fadden raised the alarm over its security implications. 

Fadden called on Canada and the US to protect Canadian gold by including it in the mutual critical-mineral strategy list, which “[secures] supply chains for the critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defence and clean technology.”

CSIS’ 2019 annual report also warned against “a number of state-owned enterprises and private firms” with close ties to foreign governments making investments in the country. 

Yellowknife MLA Rylund Johnson has also spoken out against the deal, comparing it to colonization. 

“There are so many risks that come with allowing the Chinese government to increase influence in the Arctic, including the fact they are one of our main competitors in mining,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s comments were echoed by Inuk, Nunavut MLA Cathy Towtongie, who called the purchase “very troubling.” 

“There are two Canadians jailed in (China) over an issue of retaliation (for) Canada arresting an executive. Yet here in Nunavut, a mine is being sold,” said Towtongie. 

“We ought to be more vigilant than just selling out.”