Archive for the ‘Copper’ Category

North Korea on Google Earth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

North Korea Uncovered: Version 12
Download it here

mayday.JPGAbout this Project: This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, energy infrastructure, political facilities, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, national parks, shipping, mining, and railway infrastructure. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the 12th version.

Additions include: Tongch’ang-dong launch facility overlay (thanks to Mr. Bermudez), Yongbyon overlay with destroyed cooling tower (thanks to Jung Min Noh), “The Barn” (where the Pueblo crew were kept), Kim Chaek Taehung Fishing Enterprise, Hamhung University of education, Haeju Zoo, Pyongyang: Kim il Sung Institute of Politics, Polish Embassy, Munsu Diplomatic Store, Munsu Gas Station, Munsu Friendship Restaurant, Mongolian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, UN World Food Program Building, CONCERN House, Czech Republic Embassy, Rungnang Cinema, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Pyongyang Number 3 Hospital, Electric Machines Facotry, Bonghuajinlyoso, Second National Academy of Sciences, Central Committee Building, Party Administration Building, Central Statistics Bureau, Willow Capital Food House, Thongounjong Pleasure Ground, Onpho spa, Phipa Resort Hotel, Sunoni Chemical Complex (east coast refinery), Ponghwa Chemical complex (west coast refinery), Songbon Port Revolutionary Monument, Hoeryong People’s Library, Pyongyang Monument to the anti Japanese martyrs, tideland reclamation project on Taegye Island. Additionally the electricity grid was expanded and the thermal power plants have been better organized. Additional thanks to Ryan for his pointers.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your contributions to this project.

Version 12 available: Download it here


Interview with Ken Frost, CFO, Phoenix Commerical Ventures

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Interview Blog, Germany
(click here for all their North Korea-related interviews)

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK” – Interview with Ken Frost (CFO of Phoenix)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Frost, you are member of the Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd, a company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) otherwise known as North Korea. Would you mind introducing yourself and your company as well to our readers?

Ken Frost: Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK, enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.

Phoenix is owned and run by four experienced professionals, who are based in London, Paris and the DPRK. The Board has between them many years of international business experience, and an invaluable network of well placed contacts. Phoenix offers a unique service, by being able to offer direct access to the DPRK.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd specialises in project finance in the DPRK. As is well known, the business environment is difficult, and the company targets very specific investment projects; these are small enough to manage and have the capacity to generate foreign currency, either through export or import substitution.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd maintains an office in Pyongyang, almost the only European company to do so, and operates with the following specific aims:

• Identify commercially viable investment projects in the DPRK, on a case by case basis
• Identify reliable local partners for all forms of business in the DPRK, either trade or investment
• Seek overseas investment sources for such projects
• Minimise the risk in such projects, by taking responsibility for supervision of the local set-up procedures and management of the projects

The Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd consists of nationals of the UK, France and the DPRK. The European flavour is enhanced by the fact that most of the counterparties and suppliers in the various projects are also European, and the DPRK government views Phoenix Commercial Ventures as a prime conduit for European business and investment in the DPRK.

One of the directors of Phoenix Commercial Ventures is also General Manager and CEO of the Daedong Credit Bank, the only western-invested foreign bank in the DPRK. Based in Pyongyang, this is a 70-30 joint venture between a UK financial management company based in Hong Kong and the Korea Daesong Bank, one of the main DPRK banks.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures is unique in having this connection with a reliable, locally based financial institution. The synergy benefits include a wider exposure to local business contacts in differing fields; as well as an additional degree of control, made possible by the fact that the various joint venture projects have to maintain their accounts with the bank.

We have a number of projects within DPRK, including two 50/50 joint ventures:

– Hana Electronics JVC, a consumer electronics company now ranked as one of the top three best performing joint ventures in DPRK, as assessed by the Ministry of Finance.

– Sinji JVC, whose main areas of operations are retail, software and bonded processing.

Full details about our company can be found on our website

I am the CFO of Phoenix and am a chartered accountant with over twenty years international experience of FMCG industries, consumer electronics, rough diamond distribution and the Internet. I have worked in KPMG, Philips Electronics, De Beers and run my own Internet company. I am also a Scholar on Gerson Lehrman Group Councils.

In November 2007 I reached the finals of Accountant of the Year held by the Association of International Accountants at the President’s Awards Dinner 2007. This award is designed to recognise organisations’ accountancy stars.

In January 2007 I was awarded, based on recommendations from fellow members of the ICAEW, a New Year’s Honour by AccountingWeb. The award was for my services to the accountancy profession in opposing the merger of the ICAEW with other accountancy bodies.

In November 2006 I was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Professional Financial Managers (IPFM), for my services to the accountancy profession.

In January 2006 Accountancy Age placed me on their Financial Power List for 2006. I was 11th on their list of the top 50 of “The Ones To Watch”. The list identified the “most influential names to look out for” in the world of finance for 2006.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: We read on your website “offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.” Can you tell us what kind of opportunities this could be?

Ken Frost:There are three main areas of investment opportunities open to investors, which we can facilitate within the DPRK:

1 Small scale investments ($500K or less) yielding good levels of return (20% or more).

These investment opportunities are in local production (consumer goods, bonded processing, software etc) for domestic market consumption and export. These utilise the advantages that DPRK has over all the other countries in the region namely:

– 99% literacy
– skilled/disciplined/hard working workforce
– well educated workforce, many speak a good level of English
– lowest wage rates in the region

Phoenix has a number of opportunities that it can offer investors in this area; eg bonded processing, consumer manufacturing, clothing manufacturing and software development.

2 Natural resources

DPRK has proven abundant natural resources worth several trillion dollars; eg coal, gold, copper, titanium, lead, zinc, nephelite, nickel, magnesia, graphite etc.

The investment required would be of a higher order than the small scale investments above, $1M plus. The money would be used to bring existing mines back to production, by pumping out flood water and renewing worn out capital equipment.

Phoenix has, via its working relationship with CPEEC, a number or opportunities in the natural resource sector that it can offer genuine investors.

3 Infrastructure development

Clearly investment in infrastructure is the costliest form of investment. However, given the dilapidated state of the roads, railways, ports, electricity grid etc it is necessary if the economy is to be revived.

DPRK also has a keen interest in infrastructure development focussed on green/renewable energy areas.

Phoenix has on it books a profitable renewable energy project that would suit a serious, well financed and experienced green energy investor.

The DPRK is the final economic frontier and is a “green field” site. Its primary advantages are:

– Location (physical position between Russia, South Korea, China and in AP)
– Location (historical, all the major players now want to move forward)
– Location (resources, it has abundant rich resources both mineral and human capital – high literacy, well educated etc)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are the main differences between your company and a conventional venture capital company that is investing for example in internet our biotech companies?

Ken Frost: Companies such as those you mention are industry-specific, whereas ours is location-specific. Our company is relevant to people who might want to invest in the DPRK.  We work in the DPRK and have a physical presence in the DPRK, other “conventional” venture capital companies do not.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are there any differences to other investment companies?

Ken Frost: We apply the same principles to potential investments as any other professional investment company, we look at:

– the risk
– the returns
– the quality of the local management
– the quality of the business plan
– the size of investment
– the share offered for that investment etc

We also pay very close attention to corporate governance issues such as; financial reporting, management structure and ethics etc. We have a code of conduct which can be seen on our website.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and to the pursuit of a sustainable future, both economic and social.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd adheres to three fundamental ethical principles:

– Integrity
– Competence
– Courtesy

To this end Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd has developed a Code of Conduct, which sets out to ensure that these principles are followed in its operations. The Code of Conduct governs Phoenix’s business decisions and actions. The Code applies equally to corporate actions, and to the behaviour of individual employees when conducting business on behalf of Phoenix.

We work very hard with our local management teams and business partners to ensure that international standards re reporting, corporate governance and ethics are understood and followed.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are your plans for the company’s future? How do you see Phoenix Commercial Ventures in five years time?

We see the coming period for Phoenix as that of being continued growth.

In our view there will be a major upswing in economic relations between the DPRK and other countries over the coming months/years. Phoenix Commercial Ventures is uniquely placed to take advantage of, and to respond to, that upswing.

We are one of the very few organisations to have made successful joint ventures in the DPRK. We are also one of the very few organisations to have people with many years’ experience, and cultural sensitivity, actually on the ground in Pyongyang. You cannot run a business by email!


DPRK economy shrinks for second year: Bank of Korea

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

North Korea does not publish economic data.  The size of North Korea’s economy is estimated by South Korea’s Central Bank (Bank of Korea), the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other think tanks such as the Sejong Institute (Lee Jong Seok)

According to a recent report by the Bank of Korea, North Korea sufferd its second full year of economic contraction (as defined by GDP), 1.1% in 2006 and 2.3% in 2007.  The bank estimates North Korea’s 2007 gross national income (GNI/GNP) at $26.7 billion, per capita GNP at $1,152 (assuming population of 23 million).  If you are interested in knowing the difference between GNP and GDP, click here.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Agriculture, forestry & fisheries marked a 9.4% decrease following a 2.6% decrease in 2006

Mining increased 0.4% in 2007, down from 1.9% increase in 2006

Manufacturing increased 0.8%, higher than 0.4% 2006 increase. -1.7% growth in light industry, due to the decrease in food products and beverages. +2.3% growth in heavy industries led by expansion of metal and machinery products.

Electricity, gas & water production increased 4.8%, (+2.7% in 2006), from hydroelectric and steam power generation.

Construction production -1.5%, (-11.5% in 2006), from reduced non-housing construction and civil engineering.

Services +1.7%, (+1.1% in 2006). Hotel, restaurant, transport, post & telecom industry expanded.

Trade volume (goods) fell 1.8% to $2.941 billion, 1/248 South Korea’s. Exports fell 3.0%, imports fell 1.3%.

These estimates are based on trade figures obtained from the Korea International Trade Association, Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, fuel and food aid figures from aid groups such as the International Red Cross and the World Food Program, as well as information provided by frequent visitors.

More information here:
Full report by Bank of Korea  and data (recomended)

North Korea’s Economy Shrank in 2007, Second Annual Contraction
Heejin Koo


DPRK to get copper from South

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008


South Korea will ship 1,000 tons of copper to North Korea this week in return for the disabling of its nuclear plants, officials said on Monday.

The shipment, worth 8.9 billion won ($8.5 million) will begin on Thursday, the unification ministry said.


South Korea has already made a shipment of 5,100 tons of steel plates to the North, apparently for use in patching up its decrepit power stations.

Read the full article here:
SKorea to ship copper to NKorea this week (Thompson Financial News)


DPRK Energy Experts Working Group Meeting

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

From the Nautilus Institute (presentations at bottom):

Energy insecurity is a critical dimension of the North Korean (DPRK) nuclear challenge, both in its making, and in its reversal. One of the Six-Party Talks working groups, the Economy and Energy Working Group, is largely devoted to this topic, and energy assistance will play an important role in the process of denuclearization of the DPRK. Nautilus Institute maintains a unique database and set of quantitative and qualitative analytic tools to evaluate and track the DPRK’s energy economy, and has maintained working relations with North Korean scientists and technical personnel from the energy sector for more than a decade. With this capacity, Nautilus has provided a stream of policy analyses and briefings at their request to US, ROK and other officials on the DPRK’s energy needs, its likely negotiating postures and demands, and possible negotiable options. The need for such expertise in support of the Six-Party Talks is increasing.

This project ensures that the underlying data and technical analysis available at Nautilus is as up-to-date as possible, and that analysis and policy advice are available when needed by US and other officials.
The Second DPRK Energy Experts’ Working Group (2008) served to provide information and views from key experts in the field to inform the Nautilus DPRK energy sector analysis update. Experts in attendance at the meeting provided both pertinent, recent data and special insights that are being used to help to make the database as reflective as possible of actual conditions in the DPRK. This in turn provides crucial input to the analysis needed to help to inform the parties to the 6-Party talks regarding possible approaches to DPRK energy sector redevelopment.

In addition, the DPRK Energy Experts Study Group Meeting served, as did the first Meeting, as an opportunity for experts on the DPRK to exchange views on the appropriate “next steps” in DPRK energy sector redevelopment. Key outcomes of this discussion are being reflected in the updated DPRK Energy Sector Analysis. In the process of discussions, the experts in attendance helped to further develop and elaborate-as well as providing input on the prospects for-the activities and means by which the various parties concerned with Korean peninsula affairs might engage and work with the DPRK to help resolve both the DPRK’s energy problems, and, in so doing, begin to address and ameliorate the regional and global insecurities of which the DPRK’s energy problems are a key part. In particular, through the focus of the second day of the meeting on Building Energy Efficiency, progress was made on consideration of possible benefits from and approaches to improving the effectiveness of energy use in the crucial DPRK buildings sector.

The Second DPRK Energy Experts Study Group Meeting convened by Nautilus and its partners will was attended by experts in a variety of areas related to energy supply and demand in the DPRK-including electricity, coal and other minerals, the DPRK economy as a whole, trade into and from the DPRK, and the DPRK’s rural household and agricultural sectors, and energy use in buildings in general in the DPRK and elsewhere (the primary topic of the second day of the Meeting)-to review and discuss the results of existing and newly-commissioned research, and to provide insights from their own experience and their own research. A total of approximately 15 experts on the DPRK and on matters related to DPRK issues attended the Meeting, not including an additional 15 experts, representatives from the organizations partnering to fund and organize the meeting (Nautilus, Tsinghua University, USDOE), including observers from bilateral aid agencies associated with a number of countries, from international organizations, from the business sector, and others, who also lent their expertise to the workshop. On the second day of the workshop, supported by funding from a private foundation, a five-member delegation from the DPRK also attended the meeting, providing presentations and insights of their own on energy use in DPRK buildings, and on related energy sector problems and plans in the DPRK.

Presentation: North Korea’s Mineral Resources and Inter-Korean Cooperation
By Woo-jin Chung

Presentation: Nautilus Institute’s Analysis of the DPRK Energy Sector and DPRK Energy Paths: Update
By David von Hippel

Presentation: Analysis on DPRK Power Sector Data & Interconnection Option
By Yoon Jae-young

Presentation: DPRK Energy and Energy-Related Trade with China: Trends Since 2005
By Nate Aden


DPRK’s largest copper mine flooded with difficulties

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies
NK Brief No. 08-1-29-1

It is being reported that North Korea’s Chungnyun Mine, in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, is facing severe economic difficulties due to floodwater. Hyesan mines produce 80 percent of all North Korean copper, and the North had estimated that it will be able to continue mining copper there for the next forty years. Chinese firms in Hebei’s Luan River region had wanted to import 51 percent of Hyesan Chungnyun Mine’s product, but the deal fell through due to opposition from North Korea’s committee overseeing its second (military) economy.

In 1996, during the North’s ‘Arduous March’, electricity was not provided to the mine, leading to flooding in the mineshafts. Since 1998, Kim Jong Il has budgeted 8.2 million USD to dewater the mine, and the mine was recovered using electricity and equipment provided by China.

The mine resumed operations in May, 2004, and in March of last year even an ore-dressing plant and crushing facility were constructed, indicating that there were high expectations that production would grow. However, as water filled up at the dam for the near-by Samsoo Powerplant, completed in May, the mines began to flood again.

There was no end to criticism that the powerplant, located in Jangan-Ri, Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, was to be constructed on a limestone foundation that would leech massive amounts of water, however, as a result of its construction, despite this opposition, water leaks out of the power station and has flooded the mine.

In the event that North Korea abandons the Hyesan Chungnyun Mine, it will be faced with the difficulty of needing to import the large amounts of copper required by the manufacturing industry. As this mine began to flood, North Korea has begun to import most of the copper necessary for its economy from Chile.

Currently, there is no feasible way to technically restore the mine, so as senior authorities in the North are demanding that the mine be saved at any cost, those in charge of operations are said to be uneasy.


Hyesan Mine, the Center of Copper Production Is Flooding!

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee

A source familiar with issues inside North Korea said on the 30th, “Most of the underground tunnel of Hyesan Youth Mine in Yangkang Province is now under water.” The source added, “Ever since Samsoo Hydroelectric Power Station started filling up the dam last year, the mine began to flood, and now it can not operate properly.”

Hyesan mine produces 80 percent of the country’s copper. North Korea expects that the mine could produce copper for the next forty years. Hebeisheng-Luanhe Industry in China once attempted to buy 51 percent shares of the Hyesan Youth Mine. However, this was unsuccessful due to opposition from North Korea’s second Economic Commission, which manages the military economy.

North Korea began the construction of Samsoo Hydroelectric Power Station in February of 2004, mobilizing thirty thousand troops of the so-called “Shock Brigade for the Propaganda of the Party Ideology” every year. Unfortunately, Samsoo Power Plant became the major cause of the flooding of Hyesan Mine.

If this mine is inundated with water, North Korea has to import huge amounts of copper. It was the Propaganda and Agitation Department that led the construction of Samsoo Power Plant, which generates 50,000 kilowatts of power and is now causing the flooding. It is absurd that North Korea is about to lose its principal copper mine because of Samsoo Power Plant, a facility that was primarily constructed for political purposes.

Jung You Sim (37, pseudonym), a defector from Hyesan who came to South Korea in July of this year, stated that “Hyesan Mine is almost abandoned. It takes about three years to fill up the Samsoo Dam with water. Even now, there is difficulty in pumping out the water leaked from the power plant. Once the dam is completely filled, the total volume of water will be 1,300 million cubic meters. By then, the water pressure will have made it impossible to pump out the water that has infiltrated the mine. North Korea must choose either Samsoo Power Plant or Hyesan Mine.”

Samsoo Power Plant was constructed in Jangan-ri of Hyesan, Yangkang Province; Hyesan Mine is located nearby in Masan-dong.

The construction of Samsoo Power Plant which began in February 2004 evoked a great deal of controversy from the beginning. The Guidance Department of the Party and the Ministry of Extractive Industries opposed the construction citing the high risk of flooding in the Hyesan Mine.

However, Jeong Ha Cheol, then Secretary of Propaganda and Agitation Department and Choi Choon Hwang, then vice director of the Central Committee of the Party pushed hard for the construction with the aim of boosting their political standing and succeeded in obtaining Kim Jong Il’s approval. It is almost certain that both men have been purged.

At that time, the Propaganda and Agitation Department reported that the water leakage could be prevented if the bottom of the power plant dam is pressed hard and cemented with mud about three meters deep. However, experts from France who inspected the area opposed the construction because the land itself was calcareous and unstable. The water leakage was inevitable.

First explored in the 1960s, Hyesan Mine produces 10,000 tons of copper concentrates annually. When Gapsan Dongjum Mine, explored during the Japanese colonial period, was finally depleted and closed in 1990, Hyesan Mine became the lifeline of the nation’s copper production. It flooded before in the mid 1990s but was restored shortly thereafter.

At that time, the mine flooded because the pumping device stopped operating due to the lack of electricity across the country. Although the workers at the mine did their best to pump the water, they could not stop the water flowing into the mine at a speed of 480㎥/hour. In January, 1997, Hyesan Mine flooded again, as did other mines throughout the country, and lost all mining facilities.

The workers faced insurmountable obstacles in trying to save the mine. This was because some workers at Hyesan mine had removed the copper from pumping devices and had smuggled it to China before the flood hit the country.

When the officials from the Ministry of Extractive Industries visited Hyesan Mine in 1999, they informed the local cadres that the mine’s copper production had become insufficient for the manufacture of military supplies, and as a result, copper would have to be imported from Chile.

Defectors coming from Yangkang Province said that when Kim Jong Il paid a visit to the mine in October, 1998 and received the report on the difficulties in the mine’s operation, he said, “We must save the mine at any cost. I will supply the money.” At once, the chief secretary of Yangkang Province and the Ministry of Extractive Industries took charge of restoring the mine and organized the recovery workforce.

Kim Jong Il provided the so-called “Revolutionary Fund” for the mine’s recovery. He sent $ 3.8 million in 1998 and $2.6 million in 2001, paid all in cash. In 1998 when a great number of people were starving to death, corn was available in China for $ 137 per ton. The amount of money spent on the mine’s recovery could have been used to purchase approximately 28,000 tons of corn. In those days, the local residents in Yangkang Province were made to listen to lectures about the ‘General’s Revolutionary Fund’ over and over.

Upon the order for recovery, residents in Masan 1-dong and 2-dong in Hyesan city were mobilized every weekend to dig out the dirt in the mine. By May 1, 2003, the locals had dug to a depth of 710 m. Later that year, the mine produced 1,500 tons of copper concentrates, and in 2004 it produced 3000 tons.

The local people made huge sacrifices to recover Hyesan mine, and the recovery cost about $ 7 million. However, it was all in vain. The mine is now again flooded due to the construction of Samsoo Power Plant. Hyesan defector Jung Yoon Sim said that Kim Jong Il later changed his tone when he visited Yangkang Province and heard about the recent flooding, saying “it was anticipated.”

Samsoo Power Plant can produce up to 50,000 kilowatts of power. However, about 60,000 kilowatts of power are needed to supply electricity to the apartment complexes constructed in 2003 in Samjiyun county of Yangkang Province.

After all was said and done, Kim Jong Il had mobilized 30,000 people for three and a half years and had them work 14 hours per day while providing a mere 580 grams of grain daily in an attempt to build a power plant that generates only 50,000 kilowatts. In doing so, he destroyed the nation’s leading copper production center.

President Roh praised such an incompetent and irresponsible man as “a charismatic leader who has a deep understanding about the affairs of the country and has faith in the system.”


US Geological Survey 2006 Minerals Yearbook

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Summary: For the next 4 to 5 years, the North Korean mining sector is likely to continue to be dominated by the production of coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, and zinc. Because of growing demand for minerals by China and the Republic of Korea, their investment in North Korea’s mining sector is expected to increase and to extend beyond their current investments in apatite, coal, copper, and iron ore into other minerals, such as gold, magnesite, molybdenum, nickel, and zinc. North Korea’s real GDP is expected to grow at between 1% and 2% during the next 2 years.

Other highlights:

  • North Korea ranked third in production of magnesiate in the world.  Its value-added product–magnesia clinker, which is used as a refractory metal–was marketed world wide. 
  • According to Corporate social Responsibility Asia (CSR Asia), North Kroea ranked virtually last in environmental sustainability in the world, despite the country’s enactment of major laws for environmental protection, such as the Land Law of 1977, the Environmental Protection Law of 1986, the Forrestry Law in 1982, and the Law on Protection of Useful Animals in 1998.
  • On the basis of North Korea’s industrial structure in 2004 (the last year in which data is available), the mining sector accounted for about 8.7% of North Korea’s gross domestic product.
  • Recoverable coal reserves in North Korea were estimated to total about 8 billion metric tons in 2006.  Coal production reportedly dropped to about 23 Mt/yr in 2006 from 37.5 Mt/yr in 1985 mainly because of outdated mining equipment and technology.

Download the full version here: USGS.pdf


N.K. metals, minerals to be sold directly to South

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Hankyoreh (h/t Tim Beal)

Deal would see such shipments cross the DMZ for the first time

For the first time in the more than 50 years since the Korean War, minerals produced jointly by the two Koreas will be sold in South Korea. The two countries will also start to work on developing new mine projects and will launch drilling as early as next month, Lee Han-ho, head of the Korea Resources Corp. (KORES) told the Hankyoreh in a recent exclusive interview.

Lee is one of the group of business leaders and government officials that will accompany President Roh Moo-hyun during the second-ever inter-Korean summit slated for Oct. 2-4.

“On September 5, I met with Chung Un-up, North Korean head of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Association in Pyongyang, and signed a deal to sell black lead products that two Koreas jointly produced at a mine in Hwanghae Province,” Lee said. “We also agreed to work together in developing a limestone mine in Shinwon of the same province and start drilling for black lead in the Pungcheon region.”

So far, minerals produced in the North have been sold in South Korea through a third country, such as China. Every year, US$10 million to $100 million worth of originally North Korean-produced non-metals were shipped to the South. This new project will be the first time such materials produced by the two Koreas will directly cross the line that has divided the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The cross-border shipments would also come at a time when China is working on joint ventures with the North to develop resources in the communist country. Experts see the first-ever joint production and shipment of minerals as providing a boost for inter-Korean cooperation in the resources field.

Lee was invited to the North by the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Association. The first shipment, amounting to 200 tons will be on the South Korean market earlier next month, with 800-1,000 tons of black lead to follow. Wonjin Co. will be responsible for the sale of the black lead, which will be used in making fire-resistant materials and carbonized steel. Eight hundred tons of black lead would be priced at around $150,000.

KORES opened a 50-50 joint venture with a North Korean firm in April last year, but its full-blown operation has been delayed until recently due to electricity shortages in the North.


DPRK Economic Growth Estimates for 2006

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Institute for Far East Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 07-8-22-1

The Bank of Korea released a report on August 17 that details economic estimates on a variety of sectors in North Korea. Overall, North Korea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell 1.1 percent during 2006, the first time since 1999 that the North has failed to increase its GDP. Inclement weather was one factor that played into a fall in agricultural production, and there also appears to have been little progress in the construction of public works in the country. Overall, North Korean GNI was 2.9 percent of that in the South, with per capita GNI at 1,108 USD, 6 percent of the 18,372 USD per capita GNI in South Korea.

The entire economy of the DPRK is approximately 1/35th that of the South, with the Gross National Income (GNI) a mere 1/17th the level seen in the ROK. This shows a growing divide between the two Koreas, as the comparisons in the previous year were 1/33rd and 1/16th, respectively. Due to the North Korean nuclear issues and other foreign relations problems faced during 2006, a worsening of diplomatic relations with other countries, energy shortages and other economic woes befell the North, putting the entire economy in a difficult situation.

The North showed a weakening of the agricultural and forestry industries, increasing production by a mere 2.4 percent, 2.6 percent down from 2005. Corn and other cereal production grew by 7 percent, but rice was down 6.4 percent, and bean production was down 6.6 percent from the year before, leaving overall grain output down 3.6 percent. On the other hand, shellfish and crustacean harvests grew by 1.5 percent, while timber and livestock harvests remained unchanged.

On the mining front, coal and other non-metal mined resources showed promising increases, but production of lead, zinc, and copper fell by 1.7 percent, compared to the 3.5 percent growth posted in the previous year. Despite promising increases in production of manufactured goods and growth in the chemical and heavy industries in 2005, last year North Korean production growth rates in these fields fell flat at a mere 0.4 percent, increasing production rates of fibers, clothing and shoes, but turning out less kitchenware and food-related products. Coal and fuel products looked favorable, but fabricated metals and machine parts, as well as nonferrous metal products grew at a rate of 1.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent.

Gas-fired electrical generation was up 17 percent, while hydroelectric power grew only 2.7 percent, falling from 4.4 percent in 2005. Other infrastructure projects were also on the decline, with only 49 km of road paved in 2006.

The number of foreign tourists declined, with visitors to Kumgang Mountain falling from 366,000 in 2005 to only 265,000 last year, adding to the 21.8 percent decline in the food and lodging sector, but the transportation and communication sector grew by 5.1 percent, leading to an overall gain of 1.1 percent in the service industry.

The gap in overseas trade between the two Koreas increased from 182-fold to 212-fold as North Korean foreign trade fell off 5.2 percent. Imports in the North were up 2.3%, although seafood imports were down 48.4 percent. The slack was made up by a 34.1 percent increase in the import of plastics, a 31.2 percent increase in imported chemical goods, and a 12.4 percent increase in imported machinery.

During 2006, inter-Korean exchanges grew 27.8 percent, reaching 13.5 billion USD. South Korean exports to the North grew 16 percent as Seoul increased rice and fertilizer aid, and exports to the Kaesong Industrial Complex grew. On the other hand, North-South cooperative projects grew 52.7 percent as South Korea increasingly imported North Korean zinc, sand, and other natural resources.

In order to give some perspective to the North Korean economic data, the Bank of Korea offered the following comparisons:

Population (thousand) 23,079/48.297/2.1
Economic Growth (2006) -1.1%/5.0%
Nominal GNI (100 million USD) 256/8,873/34.7
Per Capita GNI (USD) 1,108/18,372/16.6
Exports (100 million USD) 9.5/3,254.6/343.8
Imports (100 million USD) 20.5/3,93.8/151.0
Coal Production (10,000 tons) 2,468/280/0.11
Electrical Use (10,000 kW) 782/6,551/8.4
Electrical Production Capacity (100 mill. KW) 225/3,812/16.9
Petroleum Imports (10,000 bbl) 384/88,843/231.4
Cereal Production (10,000 tons) 448.3/530.0/1.2
Rice Production (10,000 tons) 189.4/468.0/2.5
Seafood Harvest (10,000 tons) 92.3/303.3/3.3
Iron Ore Mining (10,000 tons) 504.1/22.7/0.05
Nonferrous Metals Mining (10,000 tons) 8.6/187.7/21.8
Automobile Production (10,000) 0.44/384.0/872.8
Steel (10,000 tons) 118.1/4,843.3/41.0
Cement (10,000 tons) 615.5/4,920.9/8.0
Fertilizer (10,000 tons) 45.4/318.3/7.0
Chemical Products (10,000 tons) 2.9/145.7/50.2
Railways (km) 5,235/3,392/0.6
Roads (km) 25,544/102,061/4.0
Port Loading Capacity (10,000 tons) 3,700/69,213/18.7
Shipping Capacity (10,000 tons) 90.4/1,180.2/13.1