Lynas battles social media attacks from China-linked bots
According to cybersecurity experts, fake social media accounts linked to the Chinese Communist Party are engaged on attacks on Lynas Rare Earths and other rare earth mining firms.
Bloomberg reported that the attacks are an attempt to turn public opinion against Lynas and its efforts to build a new processing plant in Texas with the help of funding from the U.S. government.
“We see bot posts on various social media every day, and we report them every day, and it’s quite frustrating,” Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s very easy to see the bot posts and the messages are exactly the same.”
According to cybersecurity firms Mandiant and Graphika the attacks are in line with previous attempts to leverage social media to influence public opinion on issues ranging from the origin of the coronavirus to the US presidential election.
The bot campaign against Lynas was first identified by Mandiant, which dubbed it “Dragonbridge” and said it was emanating from a “pro-People’s Republic of China (PRC) network.” Mandiant said the campaign was also targeting a Canadian company, Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.
Albert Zhang, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, separately monitored the group and concluded it was a “Chinese Communist Party information operation.” Both Mandiant and Zhang said the attacks were likely to be an attempt to derail President Joe Biden’s efforts to build a US critical minerals industry.
Still, Lacaze said the social media attacks have had no discernible impact on the company’s operations.
Lynas is the world’s biggest producer of rare earth outside China, with an operating processing plant in Malaysia and two additional facilities being constructed in the US and Australia.
Lacaze said the result was helped by soaring demand for wind turbines and electric vehicles, adding that consumption would continue to grow.
“I think the chart goes from the bottom left to the top right with very little deviation from that trajectory,” she said, referring to the long-term demand outlook for rare earths.
Photo credit: Lynas Rare Earths