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Chinese investor fails to win seat at Australia's Northern Minerals

SYDNEY (Reuters) -- A Chinese mining investor failed in a bid to join Australian rare-earth mining company Northern Minerals' board on Thursday, days after Australia's treasurer ordered the investor's private company to sell some of its shares.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers earlier this week ordered several China-linked investors to dispose of Northern Mineral shares, amounting to 10.4% of its issued share capital, on national interest grounds.

Yuxiao Fund had 60 days to offload 80 million Northern Minerals shares bought in September. The company was ordered not to lift its stake in February 2023.

Australia and its Western allies are striving to build out a supply chain separate from dominant producer China, which supplies around 90% of the world's permanent magnets used in everything from wind turbines to electric vehicles to defense.

Rare-earth miners are increasingly relying on government support. Northern Minerals is producer of heavy rare earths, which are more sought after by China. Its shares closed up 7%.

The fund had sought Foreign Investment Review Board approval to raise its ownership to 19.9% in 2022, from 9.81% of Northern Minerals, but was declined last year.

Northern Minerals has said the ultimate controller of Yuxiao Fund is Chinese national Wu Tao. Wu's nomination to join the Northern Minerals board was one of four that failed on Thursday, the company announced at its annual meeting.

Wu Tao has mining interests in Mozambique and China, where his private company has developed and operated rare-earth-mineral businesses, Northern Minerals has said.

Two other board candidates proposed by entities and individuals linked to Yuxiao Fund and named in the treasurer's disposal order on Monday also failed at the meeting.