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(LEAD) N. Korea estimated to have US$2.79 trillion worth of mineral resources

2017/10/01 11:46

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(ATTN: ADDS details in 4th para, CORRECTS figure in last para from dollars to won)

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has mineral resources potentially worth some 3,200 trillion won (US$2.79 trillion), whose development is dominated by Chinese firms, while South Korea is shut out due to sanctions, a report from a state agency said Sunday.

The Korea Resources Corp. (KORES), in a report submitted to Rep. Eoh Kiy-ku, said the estimated value of North Korea's untapped minerals as of the end of 2016 is 14 times more than 230 trillion won for South Korea.

The North has signed 38 contracts with foreign companies to develop the mineral mines ranging from gold and silver to coal, of which 33 are with Chinese firms, according to the agency. The others are divided among companies from Japan, which have two contracts, France, also two, and Switzerland, which has one.

All of the 10 long-term contracts, effective for between 10 to 50 years, are with Chinese companies, the report said.

South Korea is barred from the business under sanctions imposed in 2010 as a punitive measure for the North's torpedo attack of the corvette Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors.

According to the report, South Korean firms had invested $41.95 million in North Korea's mineral development, but most of the projects have been suspended.

KORES had invested $6.65 million and retrieved about $244,221, the report said.

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angloinfo.com