SEOUL, North Korea has mineral resources estimated to be worth 3,795 trillion won (US$3.3 trillion) in terms of current market value, about 15 times that of South Korea, a state-run agency's report showed Thursday.
The North is sitting on a vast amount of mineral resources, including magnesite (6 billion tons), graphite (2 million tons), iron ore (5 billion tons) and tungsten (250,000 tons), according to the Korea Resources Corporation's (KRC) report submitted to the parliament.
Pyongyang has signed 40 investment agreements in regard to its minerals with foreign companies, with 90 percent of them being with China, its closest ally, the KRC said.
Rep. Park Jung of the ruling Democratic Party expressed concerns over China's dominance in North Korea's mineral trade, calling for the Seoul government to carry out reviews of North Korean mines as soon as possible.
South Korea had carried out inspections of North Korean mineral resources following the inter-Korean summit in 2000, but all ties have been suspended since 2010 due to soured ties between the two sides.
"If South Korea can bring in North Korea's mineral resources, it would be able to stably use them for several centuries," Park said. "The government needs to promptly take actions because China has already secured many of North Korea's mineral resources."
The reclusive state has considerable amounts of resources and metals needed to make smartphones and other high-tech products. It does not have suitable mining equipment and potential buyers due to tough international sanctions on the regime.
South Korea has considerable know-how in making memory chips, displays and rechargeable batteries but imports most raw materials from abroad.
Source: Yonhap News Agency