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Report: North Korea offered rare earth mining rights to China

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea has stepped up investment proposals to China on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, a Chinese source says. File Photo by Yonhap
North Korea has stepped up investment proposals to China on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, a Chinese source says. File Photo by Yonhap

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- North Korea could be ready to offer rare earth mining rights to China, its biggest trading partner, in return for a solar power plant, according to a Chinese report.

A Chinese media network specializing in the global ferroalloy market, Quanqiu Tiehejin Wang, reported North Korean officials in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang made the offer to the Chinese.

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"If a solar power plant is built to resolve the problem of power shortages, in return, we will grant rare earth mining rights in an area north of Pyongyang," North Korean authorities reportedly told their Chinese counterparts.

A Chinese official in the report who spoke anonymously said North Korean authorities offered a rare earth mine in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province.

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The Chinese source also said a solar power plant that provides 2.5 million watts of electricity daily to Pyongyang, the capital, would cost about $2.5 billion.

The source added North Korea has been "trying to procure investments from China" in 2019, the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Improved ties have enabled North Korea to engage Chinese officials in investment discussions, the source said.

"On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea, a Pyongyang trade representative with ties to the North Korean military visited Dandong, Liaoning Province, for discussions with the Chinese side," the Chinese source said. "The two sides discussed phase 1 of an investment project."

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North Korea is under heavy sanctions. The United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2270, adopted in March 2016, prevents North Korea from trading in gold, titanium, vanadium and rare earths. Rare earths are highly sought for their use in manufacturing consumer electronics.

North Korea has criticized the United States for supporting sanctions, but the regime also credited U.S. President Donald Trump for improved relations with leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korean foreign ministry official Kim Kye Kwan said in a statement in KCNA on Thursday "trust is ongoing" between Kim Jong Un and Trump, and friendly relations are "strong."

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Kim Kye Kwan also said Pyongyang is monitoring U.S. actions until the end of the year, according to KCNA.

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