Own Lynas shares? Here’s the latest challenge faced by the rare earths miner

Why are social media bots going after Lynas?

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Key points

  • Lynas shares have soared nearly 53% in a year 
  • Lynas is reportedly being subject to a pro-China social media campaign 
  • The rare earths company has multiple contracts with the US Government 

Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC) is reportedly the target of a social media campaign promoting pro-China narratives.

Lynas shares have surged 51% in a year and are currently trading at $8.73. For perspective, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has lost 10% in a year.

So what are the details of this cyber campaign said to be targeting Lynas?

Lynas received high level attention

American cybersecurity company Mandiant says Lynas is being targeted by a social campaign known as Dragonbridge. Thousands of social media accounts linked to this group are reportedly promoting the pollical interests of China.

Mandiant said the campaign “targeted the Australian rare earths mining company Lynas Rare Earths”.

The social media posts are calling for protests against the planned Lynas’ rare earths processing facility in Texas.

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) on Tuesday said it appreciated Madiant’s diligence exposing this campaign. The DOD said:

The Department of Defense is aware of the recent disinformation campaign, first reported by Mandiant, against Lynas Rare Earth Ltd., a rare earth element firm seeking to establish production capacity in the United States and partner nations, as well as other rare earth mining companies. 

The department has engaged the relevant interagency stakeholders and partner nations to assist in reviewing the matter.

Lynas on its website, states it is the only significant producer of separated rare earth materials outside China. The company has multiple agreements with the US Government. On 14 June, Lynas revealed it has signed a US$120 million follow-on contract with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) for a commercial heavy rare earths separation facility. In January 2021, Lynas signed a deal with the US Government for a light rare earths separation facility.

Commenting on the social media campaign, Lynas told the Australian Financial Review this is the first time it has seen evidence of direct links between “fake social media accounts” spreading disinformation and political agendas. Lynas added:

The report shows evidence of direct and mutual engagement between the pro-China Dragonbridge social media accounts and the Malaysian anti-Lynas activists.

Lynas share price snapshot

Lynas shares have lost 14% in the year to date, while they are down nearly 7% in the past month. In the last week, the company’s share price has jumped 4%.

Lynas has a market capitalisation of about $7.9 billion based on the current share price.

Motley Fool contributor Monica O'Shea has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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