Archive for the ‘Gold’ Category

2007 US Geological Survey published on North Korea

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

An advanced copy of the 2007 US Geological Survey of North Korea has been published. 

Here is the outlook from the author, John C. Wu:

For the next 3 to 4 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 the continuing strong demand for minerals by China, its investments in North Korea’s mining sector are expected to continue to increase beyond its current investments in coal, copper, gold, iron ore, and molybdenum into other mineral commodities, such as nickel, crude petroleum, steel, and zinc. North Korea’s economy is expected to recover slowly but its real GDP is expected to grow at less than 1% during the next 2 years.

The whole report is fairly brief and worth reading in full.  You can download it here: usgs-dprk.pdf or read it on line here.


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 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


The Number of Day Laborers Hired by Private Parties Increasing in North Korea

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin

The number of day labor jobs offered by private parties is gradually increasing in the North. Unlike those with full time jobs at State-run factories, individuals with day labor jobs work by the day.

According to inside sources and many defectors who came to the South earlier this year, individuals looking for day labor jobs normally work as gold miners, construction workers in cities, as luggage carriers for train passengers and maids.

In North Korea, these day laborers are called “Bulbulee (which means a person sweats for labor),” “Sakbari (which means a person waiting for wages)” or “Ilkkun (workers).” It is reported that there are day labor hiring centers in big cities and around the closed mining areas.

Daily laborers’ wages vary based on the type of work. Laborers working at gold mines are provided with housing and food and get paid 1,500 North Korean won per day. In the city construction sites, skilled laborers such as plasterers earn 2,000 won daily whereas unskilled laborers make less than 1,000 won. Daily laborers are making good money compared to factory workers whose average monthly wages fall between 3,000 and 5,000 won.

Kim Yong Chul (pseudonym), a defector who used to work as a day laborer at a mine in Hoichang of South Pyongan Province said, “Since 2004, day labor hiring centers started to appear in the jangmadang (market) of Hoichang. Employers hired young men and women in good health on the spot and took them to workplaces.” He used to work at a mine well-known across the country since the Japanese colonial period. Mr. Kim said, “Day laborers not only dug for gold but were also mobilized to build or fix houses for their employers.”

In Hoichang, there are some gold mines closed by the authorities that were thought to be tapped out. In the mid 1990s, some locals dug the mines again and made a great fortune. Years later, around 2003, these locals began looking out for workers and started hiring individuals from other provinces. Now the county has a great number of day laborers from various provinces working at mines.

Good Friends, the Seoul-based relief organization dedicated to North Korea, said in a recent report, “On October 23rd at around 10 A.M., a gold mine in Hoichang of South Pyongan Province collapsed, leaving three miners dead and two wounded.” In the North, private parties are banned from trading gold and pine mushrooms by law, and only the State can make these types of transactions. However, it is well known that many officials in charge of enforcing the ban frequently take bribes and allow those who pay them to dig for gold in closed mines.

Gold miners usually stay underground between 15 to 30 days each time they begin a mining operation. The miners dig up the ore, crush it using a machine called a Maguanggi (ore-polishing machine) and apply mercury to extract gold. The whole process is done in underground tunnels, and the processed gold is sold to gold dealers in Pyongsung and Sinuiju.

Individuals who run the crushing machine are laborers from other provinces, and most of them are females. With food and housing provided by their employer, they make 1,000 won daily. If they work year-round this way, they can earn decent money.

45-year-old Park Jong Moo (pseudonym) who came to the South this year said, “I earned 2,000 won per day when I worked as a plasterer, building a house for a man who made his money from trade in Chongjin City.”

Mr. Park’s son worked as a cargo porter at the Chongjin railway station. Since there were so many “Sakbari (referring to cargo porters working for daily wages)” at the station, competition among “Sakbari” was fierce. Normally, these porters made less than 1,000 won per day.

It is becoming popular among party cadres and the new wealth to have a maid who does housework and takes care of children. These people introduce the maid to their neighbors as a ‘distant relative’ because having a maid is unthinkable in the Socialist North. While performing maid services and getting paid for the work that she does, the maid pretends to be a family member and acts as if she is merely helping out with the housework.

A source inside the North said, “There was once a party official in Chongjin who employed a girl as a maid after having paid her parents. When the official was accused of having a maid, the official said she was a ‘relative.’”

Regarding the rise in day laborers, an expert on North Korea says, “Those North Koreans who made a fortune from mining or trade privately employ laborers to further expand their businesses…However, since the regime will never allow the rich to become too powerful, it will begin to regulate the employment activities of private parties at the proper time.”


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.


North Korea Wants End to Sanctions Before It Makes Nuclear Deal

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Bradley K. Martin

To make painkillers and antibiotics in his factory in Pyongyang, Swiss businessman Felix Abt needs reagents, chemicals used to test for toxic impurities. Abt can’t get them now — because the world refuses to sell North Korea a product that is also used to manufacture biological weapons.

Such sanctions on trade with the regime of Kim Jong Il — some dating back to the Korean War — may be the next diplomatic battleground after North Korea bowed to pressure last week and shut down five nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.

North Korea said July 16 that ending sanctions, and its removal from a U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, are prerequisites for further progress in the negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program. The U.S., meanwhile, says the next step is for North Korea to disclose all its nuclear capabilities, followed by a permanent dismantling of Yongbyon.

North Korea is playing a “tactical game,” said David Straub, a Korea specialist at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. After shutting down Yongbyon and receiving a pledge of 950,000 tons of oil, the reclusive nation will try to “force the U.S. and others to lift sanctions,” Straub said in an e-mail exchange.

While many of the post-Korean war sanctions were lifted between 1994 and 2000 by President Bill Clinton, Americans are prohibited from exporting “dual-use” products or technologies, a wide range of items that might have military as well as civilian applications — including reagents and even aluminum bicycle tubing, which might be used to make rockets.

UN Sanctions

Much of the world joined the sanctions regime after North Korea tested an atomic device last October. The United Nations called on member states to stop trade in weapons, “dual-use” items and luxury goods. Japan went further, stopping used-car exports and banning port calls by North Korean vessels.

Now that North Korea has shut its facilities at Yongbyon and allowed in international inspectors, the haggling will begin on the next steps. If its demands aren’t met, North Korea could kick out the inspectors and restart the plants, as it did in 2002.

“The Bush administration must choose between settling for a temporary closure of the nuclear sites and taking a strategic decision to coexist” with North Korea, said Kim Myong Chol, Tokyo-based president of the Center for Korean-American Peace, who for three decades has encouraged foreign reporters to consider him an informal North Korean spokesman. “Otherwise, the agreement will break up, leaving the U.S. with little to show.”

‘Contentious Issue’

Sanctions represent “a multiplicity of issues that could become contentious,” said economist Marcus Noland, North Korea specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, in an e-mail exchange. China has already called for the lifting of the UN sanctions imposed Oct. 14.

North Korea agreed with the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Japan on Feb. 13 to close its Yongbyon reactor, which produced weapons-grade plutonium, and to eventually declare and disable all of its atomic programs. Working groups will meet in August before another round of talks in September.

If the U.S. insists on a list of all the country’s nuclear facilities without starting to negotiate on sanctions, North Korea might consider that “a spoiler” for the talks ahead, Kim Myong Chol said.

Swiss businessman Abt said that in the past he could get around U.S. sanctions for his North Korean pharmaceutical factory by buying supplies from other countries. The UN sanctions shut off those sources.

Using Old Stocks

“Luckily, we have enough stock of reagents, but when it runs out we would not be able to guarantee the safety of our pharmaceuticals any longer,” he said.

Abt, 52, is president of Pyongsu Pharma Joint Venture Co., an enterprise with ties to the Ministry of Public Health that makes painkillers and antibiotics for humanitarian organizations in North Korea. He is also president of Pyongyang’s European Business Association.

“The same is true in many other civilian industries,” said Abt, who moved to North Korea from Vietnam five years ago. Gold mines are affected too, he said: “If they cannot import cyanide, they can’t extract the gold.” Cyanide is another “dual-use” product, part of the process for making some chemical weapons, he said.

All this has “a highly negative impact” on the economy at a time when the regime has announced it wants to focus on development, Abt said. Foreigners are showing “more and more interest in doing business here,” Abt said, predicting that North Korea will eventually be regarded as a successor to Vietnam as “the newest emerging market.”


Macau Bank Dealt Gold for N Korea

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Associated Press

Macau Bank at Center of Nuclear Talks Dealt Gold for North Korea

A small Macau bank accused of laundering money for North Korea also dealt gold for the reclusive country, with gold pieces flown in to the Chinese territory then carried to nearby Hong Kong and sold there, a news report said Wednesday.

Citing an audit report by the accounting firm Ernst & Young, the South China Morning Post said Banco Delta Asia’s ties to North Korea go back 30 years, and that besides accepting deposits, the bank also handled gold and silver sales for clients from the country worth $120 million.

The Post said six North Korean companies shipped gold pieces stamped with “Central Bank of North Korea” to Macau.

The gold was then moved to Banco Delta Asia’s Hong Kong subsidiary, Delta Asia Credit, by hand, then sold to a German trader, according to the Post.

Hong Kong is an hour by high-speed ferry from gambling enclave Macau.

The report says Banco Delta Asia’s North Korean business accounted for 22 percent its turnover during the 30 years, the Post reported.

The U.S. announced last month the bank would be blacklisted and blocked from doing business with American banks, a potentially crippling blow to most lenders.

The move came after American investigators accused the bank of helping North Korea launder money and handle counterfeit currency.

Macau’s Monetary Authority took control of the bank and froze about $25 million in North Korean funds. That enraged the North Koreans, who for more than a year boycotted the six-nation talks that aim to disarm the North’s nuclear program.

The bank has repeatedly denied knowingly helping in North Korea’s alleged illicit activities and said Monday it filed a challenge against the U.S. ruling.

It said it was a family-owned lender that lacked the sophisticated equipment and procedures to combat money laundering and counterfeiting.

Banco Delta Asia and Ernst & Young’s Macau office didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.


9.2 Tons of Gold Replaces North Korea’s BDA for 3 Years

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Daily NK
Han Young Jin

Singaporean newspaper “Singapore Lianhe Zaobao” reported, “Though the recent BDA issue ended in shambles, Macao and BDA did face some trials” and “With the U.S. able to strangle any county with international financial sanctions, the BDA issue rang alarm bells for illegal acts occurring throughout the world.”

The Zaobao’s online site reported on the 24th, “7~8 small scale family run banks in Macau banks are faced with the threat of closing down as BDA concluded that these banks were acting as North Korea’s ‘laundering black money.’ Macau has been caught in this political issue after being targeted as a place dealing North Korea’s money laundering.” The newspaper also analyzed that the international community had questioned China’s morals.

“All these things have occurred because BDA agreed to supplement North Korea’s gold into dollars” the Zaobao added.

It continued, “During the last 3 years, BDA has exchanged 9.2tons of North Korean gold into $120 million” and “Even last year, North Korea exported gold and silver to Thailand and exchanged $38 million.”

The site reported, “The U.S. is empowering the international financial market and as a result, no financial marketer can oppose the willpower of U.S.” and consequently financial transactions between North Korea and London have ceased. In the past, North Korea had been placing at least 1ton of gold on London markets.

The amount of trade that occurs weekly in London’s gold market equals $2000~3000 million, which in turn equates to 43% of the world’s gold trade. The newspaper pointed out that North Korea’s detachment from London’s markets means that North Korea has now been excluded from the world’s mainstream market.

In the end, even China endured finite investigations as a result of BDA and North Korea’s funds and is now acting in a cautious manner added the report.

In all, the report analyzed that North Korea’s annual production of gold to reach 6 tons.