Chinese invest in DPRK mining

Michael Rank, a China/North Korea specialist based in London reports:

A Chinese company has opened a joint venture iron mine in North Korea with registered capital of €36 million ($57 million), a Chinese website specialising in North Korea reports (link here).

The Chinese partner is S Group, whose main aim includes developing magnesite mines in North Korea, but for some reason it switched from magnesite to iron mining.

The mine in Ongjin-gun (gun=county), Hwanghaenam-do (South Hwanghae, do=province), south of Pyongyang, has been in operation since the second half of last year, and the company running it is the Xihai/Seohae (West Sea) Joint Enterprise, the website says, but gives no further details.

The Chinese report erroneously places Ongjin-gun in Hwanghaebuk-do (North Hwanghae) but it is confirmed as being in Hwanghaenam-do by  조선지도첩 (Joseon Jidocheop, Atlas of Korea, Pyongyang, 1997), p. 45. I have not been able to find any other reference to a Chinese mining company called S Group.

Chinese steel company Tonggang (Tonghua Steel), based in the northeastern province of Jilin, was reported by a Chinese newspaper in January 2006 to be spending four billion yuan ($506 million) to develop the Musan iron mine in Hamgyeongbuk-do (North Hamgyong province), said to be North Korea’s largest iron deposit – and the biggest in Asia, according to some estimates.

Magnesite (magnesium carbonate) is used in protecting the linings of steel furnaces, in the production of synthetic rubber and in making fertilisers.

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