Rare earths junior Northern Minerals has been targeted in a cyber-attack, less than two days after Treasurer Jim Chalmers ordered Chinese investors to sell their stakes in the company.

Northern Minerals said via a statement it had been the subject of a cyber attack which included corporate, operational and financial information, as well as details relating to former and current personnel and shareholders.

Northern Minerals became aware in late March 2024 of the breach,” the statement said.

“The breach has not had a material impact on the Company’s operation or broader systems.

“Since the breach, the Company has reviewed its processes and implemented actions to further strengthen its systems.”

As detailed in the statement, the data was exfiltrated in March, but released on June 4 – two days after Treasurer Jim Chalmers ordered Yuxiao Fund and four other companies linked to China to divest their shares in the company.

It followed China-linked Singapore-based Yuxiao Fund’s bid to increase its stake in the company, which was rejected by Treasurer in February 2023.

It leaves Yuxiao 60 days to dispose of 80 million shares.

“The decision, based on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, is designed to protect our national interest and ensure compliance with our foreign investment framework,” Mr Chalmers said.

Business News understands notorious cybercriminal group Bian Lian having claimed responsibility for the breach via a dark web data brokering site.

Bian Lian, named after an ancient Chinese dramatic art of face changing in opera, is a ransomware and data extortion group.

They have targeted several US and Australian critical infrastructure sectors since June 2022.

Northern Minerals is a Perth-based company that owns 100 per cent of the Browns Range heavy rare earths project in the East Kimberley.

Its tenements are rich in dysprosium, a rare element used in magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The Federal government’s recent budget allocated $7 billion to a critical minerals production tax incentive to underpin 10 per cent of processing and refining costs for 31 critical minerals.

The treasurer’s divestment notice was the first he has made in his two years in the job.

Valued at $620 million, Northern is hopeful of a final investment decision at Browns Range early in 2025.


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