Archive for the ‘Mining Industry Department’ Category

Types of businesses expanding among North Korean cabinet-directed enterprises

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

Business enterprises under the direct supervision of the DPRK Cabinet appear eager to expand business operations, from mine development to the sale of gochujang (red pepper paste), in order to procure funds necessary for state-level development projects and running the government.

The North Korean cabinet-supervised Korea Taeyang Corporation* revealed on its homepage on October 18, 2015, “We are actively pushing forward joint ventures in the selling and manufacturing of molybdenum products with major companies in China, Switzerland, and Brazil.”

“The molybdenum mine located in Changjin County in South Hamgyong Province produces hundreds of tons of molybdenum concentrate every year, so we are manufacturing molybdenum steel at the molybdenum steel refinery and exporting it,” the company explained.

Their work is not restricted to mining, but extends to transportation and distribution, as well as the restaurant business. The subsidiary Korea Taeyang Transportation Co. owns twenty container wagons, thirty freight cars over 20 tons, fifty 10-ton freight cars, and fifty freight cars under 10 tons.

The Taeyang electrics store, located in Pongnam-dong of Pyongyang’s Pyongchon District, specializes in the selling and repair of electrical appliances and electronics like computers. It was also involved in the vitamin C factory built in 2013 in accordance with Kim Jong Il’s dying injunctions.

In addition, there are ostrich ranches and tourist souvenir shops, as well as restaurants that sell ostrich meat and other North Korean and Chinese cuisines in Pyongyang’s Yonpung Restaurant.

Furthermore, it also operates fertilizer and feed factories, duck ranch, pig factory, instant noodle factory, tobacco factory among others. It also has overseas offices in Beijing, Dalian, Shenyang and Africa.

The corporation expressed, “We are hopeful to make connections with buyers interested in ostrich leather, ostrich crafts, agricultural machineries, teak wood manufactured goods, and red pepper and bean pastes.

The president of Taeyang, Pak Sun Chol, is a delegate to the Supreme People’s Assembly and deputy director of Cabinet affiliated General Bureau of State Development.

On Naenara, the official web portal of the DPRK (targeted toward an international audience), the corporation expressed its intention to “meet the continuous challenges in new areas under the direct guidance of the Republic and develop into a technology-focused company that will strengthen cooperation and exchanges with companies from around the world.”

While some of the profits earned by the company are used by the Cabinet for its operating funds, most of the profits are reportedly used for state construction projects.


DPRK Law on Underground Resources

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The DPRK’s Naenara web page posts PDF copies of the DPRK magazine, International Trade. No updates have been made for 2013, however, Choson Exchange points an interesting article from the Q4 2012 issue which contains interesting information on the DPRK mining sector.

Choson Exchange posted a high resolution .jpg from the most recent issue of International Trade and you can see it here.

The article, “Abundant Underground Resources and the Policy for Their Development,” provides information on the “DPRK Law on Underground Resources” which was allegedly adopted by Decree No. 14 at the fifth session of the ninth Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (1993-4-8: during the Arduous March).

The text of the law is not given, and most of the article is “fluff” language, but here are some interesting tidbits:

Institutions, enterprises and organizations can develop underground resources.  They are obliged not only to make mining equipment large, modern, and high-speed, and diversify transportation but to give priority to tunneling and introduce efficient mining methods to boost mineral output.

Development of underground resources is subject to the approval of the state organ of deliberation of underground resources development .

Institutions, enterprises and organizations engaged in underground resource development shall ensure high efficiency of investment pursuant to the design of underground resource development.

They shall ensure rational organization of mining to excavate ore bodies that conform to mining criterion and standard of calculating deposits of underground resources. But the practices of digging out only high-grade and thick ore bodies in good condition to excavate are prohibited.

Abandoning of ore and coal mines and their pits should be subject to the approval of the state organ of deliberation of underground resource development.

Institutions, enterprises, and organizations, concerned should actively tap the resources of geotherm, underground water and mineral water for the economic development and improvement of people’s [sic] life [sic].

The living environment of inhabitants and ecological environment of animals and plants, including land, resources and landscapes should not be damaged in the course of their development.

The DPRK policy of underground resources development makes a tangible contribution to protection and development of underground resources to fully meet the increasing demands of the national economy for raw materials and fuel, and thus gives the impetus to the building of a thriving socialist country.


DPRK mineral exports to China increase

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

UPDATE 1 (2014-1-21): See more recent data here and here.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-11-6): According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s mineral exports to China have tripled this year compared to a year ago, a study showed Sunday.

A joint study of Chinese data by Yonhap News Agency and Seoul-based IBK Economic Research Institute showed that China imported 8.42 million tons of minerals from North Korea from January to September this year, worth US$852 million.

Over the first nine months of last year, China brought in 3.04 million tons of minerals from the North for $245 million.

Most of the minerals were anthracite coals, the data showed. This year, of 8.42 million tons, 8.19 tons were anthracites.

China is the sole major ally and the biggest economic benefactor for North Korea, a reclusive regime under international economic sanctions following its nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Cho Bong-hyun, an analyst at the IBK institute, said North Korea may be trying to earn much-needed hard currency as it aims to become a powerful and prosperous country by 2012.

“Last year, North Korea ordered its institutions to meet their goals in foreign currency income by this year,” Cho said. “Since exporting minerals is a military business, we can see that the military is trying to meet its target. In addition, the steep mineral export growth was attributable to the lifting of the cap on the amount of mineral exports, as ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.”

China appears to be trying to stockpile mineral resources at affordable prices, Cho added. North Korean anthracites were traded at an average of $101 per ton, whereas the international standard for quality anthracites is $200 per ton.

“Given that North Korean coals are of very good quality, trade with China must have been made at a fairly low price,” Cho said.

Meanwhile, sources said North Korean authorities last month entirely halted its coal exports, as the impoverished country fears a shortage of energy resources during the upcoming winter.

From January to September this year, China exported 732,000 tons of minerals to North Korea, most of them crude oil.

Here is the IBK web page.  If anyone can find a copy of this report and send it to me to post, I would appreciate it.

Additional information:
1. The economics lessons: A. The more isolated the DPRK’s economy from the global trade and financial system, the greater monopsony power Chinese firms can exert on their North Korean trading partners. B. The rents earned in the current DPRK-China trade regime are visible and have organized constituencies.  Unfortunately the much greater gains that could be reaped if the North Korean economy was more open, integrated, and dynamic remain unseen and their potential beneficiaries remain unknown and unorganized.

2. The Nautilus Institute published a very interesting paper by Nathaniel Aden on China DPRK trade back in June. See it here.

3.  Here is the most recent US Geological Survey report on the DPRK’s mineral sector.

Read the Yonhap story here:
N. Korea’s mineral exports to China tripled from last year: study


No. 91 Office

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Pictured above (Google Maps): No. 91 Office

According to the Daily NK:

No. 91 Office, as it is known, is allegedly run under the auspices of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance.

A defector with substantial experience of conditions there offered information on the situation as far back as 2006 at the NKnet-organized “2011 North Korean Cyber Terror Seminar.”

The defector was unable to attend the seminar in person due to fears for his safety, but via pre-produced materials he explained how No. 91 Office is located in a set of two two-storey buildings in the Dangsang-dong of Mankyungdae-district, and how he entered the buildings on a number of occasions thanks to his relations with traders and cadres affiliated to it.

Additionally, satellite images were used to show the location of the office, just 300m from Ansan Bridge across the Botong River.

The defector also detailed the staff of No. 91 Office; the head, in 2006 a PhD-holding colonel in his 40s, a Party secretary ranked lieutenant-colonel, a similarly-ranked National Security Agency agent and around 80 staff, all in their 20s and 30s.

The 80 staff, all excellent minds selected from Kim Il Sung University, Chosun Computer University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and other elite schools, often spoke of ‘business trips’ to Shenyang and Dandong in China, the source explained.

The No. 91 Office-affiliated trade arm had five workers at the time, and is known as the ‘May 18th Trading Company, he added. Through it, the No. 91 Office allegedly obtains the equipment to do its work and provides hackers and other staff with daily necessities.

The unit has a 35-seater bus and two cars with number plates starting with ‘33’ or ‘34’, officially denoting vehicles belonging to the Mining Industry Department of the Cabinet.

Here and here are previous post on the Reconnaissance Bureau.

Here is a post on similar cyber warfare units in the DPRK: Mirim College and Moranbong University

Read the full story here:
No. 91 ‘Hackers HQ’ Revealed
Daily NK
Kim So Yeol