South Korea continues imports of DPRK coal

From Yonhap:

A North Korea-registered cargo ship carrying coal arrived in South Korea’s port city of Ulsan Sunday amid increased cross-border tensions, according to maritime police.

The 2,496-ton freighter Changseong carrying a 29-member crew docked at the port, South Gyeongsang province, around 10:20 a.m. earlier in the day.

The ship carried 4,000 tons of coal, the first batch of 12,000 tons to be delivered by April 25, the police said.

And how much are they paying? IFES has the answer…

North Korea, in keeping with rising international coal prices, appears to have hiked up the export price of heating briquettes twice in the last three months. A North Korea insider in Shenyang, China recently reported, “North Korea’s Trade Bureau Price Control Division raised export prices at least twice as this month came around, so the export price soared up to 50 USD per ton,” and, “As the rising international coal price trend continues, there is a high probability that North Korean heating briquette prices will also rise further.”

Last year, North Korean heating briquettes were exported at 30 USD per ton, but as 2008 rolled around and international prices suddenly shot up, DPRK coal prices rose by over 50 percent, putting a significant burden on Chinese importers. However, Chinese importers still prefer DPRK briquettes as shipping costs from alternatives such as Vietnam or Indonesia still make North Korean imports relatively inexpensive.

It has been reported that the DPRK Trade Bureau has approved the export of briquettes to China at below-official prices of 44~45 USD per ton in cases in which there is Chinese capital or equipment has been invested in the coal mine. These charcoal briquettes are North Korea’s largest export item, with China importing 170 million USD-worth in 2007 alone.

So if South Korea was lucky enough to get China’s price (an assumption that might not be the case): 12,000 tons (by April 25) x USD$50/ton= $600,000

Read the full articles here:
N. Korean cargo ship visits Ulsan  

DPRK coal briquet export prices jump this year
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
(NK Brief No. 08-4-10-1)


One Response to “South Korea continues imports of DPRK coal”

  1. Werner Koidl says:

    Is the “coal” in the yonhap report also charcoal briquettes ? Otherwise it could be anything between lignite and anthracite, quite different from charcoal ?

    Second, I was very sursprised to read that charcoal is NK’s prime export item. To produce that much charcoal NK will have to cut large areas of forests. So, NK’s food crisis, caused by floods due to deforestation, could be also be related to the North’s need to earn foreign currency by producing and exporting charcoal ?