An online disinformation and political campaign called Dragonbridge has targeted Australian mining company Lynas Rare Earths with US cyber security firm, Mandiant, stating Dragonbridge has links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Mandiant told Lynas that the campaign “has been operating since 2019 and consists of thousands of inauthentic accounts on social media platforms and websites that spread messages promoting the interests of the People’s Republic of China”.

The “fake social media accounts” produced “content criticising Lynas’ alleged environmental record and calling for protests” and calling for a boycott. The content comes mostly due to the planned construction of a processing facility in Texas and the overall plans for company expansion. 

Mandiant said the cyber attacks are targeting “an industry of strategic significance to the People’s Republic of China”, and particularly companies that challenge Beijing’s market dominance.

Lynas’ position is challenging Beijing’s 90 per cent dominance of the global rare earth processing industry – one of the world’s most strategically important industries.

Lynas’ development of rare earth mining and processing facilities is being challenged, to maintain countries like Australia, the United States and Germany relying on Chinese industries.

Lynas Rare Earths, who own the Lynas Mt Weld mine in Western Australia is one of the world’s premier rare earth deposits, and set to expand in the coming months as demand for the rare earth deposits needed for renewable energy technologies continue to grow. 

The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, is aware that demand for processed rare earth metals will skyrocket due to its critical use in production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles.

The shift to net zero will is also noted to require more mining, not less, according to the 2022 Global Mining Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Whilst the Dragonbridge campaign seems to have a clear agenda on ensuring the world maintains dependency on China for renewables as much as possible, Mandiant said the campaign’s “poor execution remains a limiting factor in the campaign’s ability to effectively garner significant engagement”. 

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