North Korea intends to grant China access to rare earth minerals mine in exchange for funding in solar power that would ease its chronic energy shortages, a Chinese business association website reported Thursday.
China is the world’s predominant producer of rare earth minerals, a batch of 17 chemical elements prized for its application in consumer electronics and military equipment, however, neighboring North Korea is believed to have vital untapped rare earth resources.
Putting the price of a 2.5 million kilowatts per day solar power plant in North Korea at about $2.5 billion, the report on the website of the Association of China Rare Earth Industry stated China’s reward for investing could be mining rights to a rare earth mine in North Pyongan province on its frontiers.
The source of the story was stated as sector pricing and data provider China Bulk Commodity (CBC) Nonetheless, Radio Free Asia published a similar report on Oct. 21.
As 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the institution of diplomatic connections between the two nations, the official said, it will be “easier to barter with the Chinese authorities” at present.
Nonetheless, one Chinese rare earth trade source said such a deal was “wishful thinking” on behalf of North Korea and was skeptical about the real level of Chinese interest in the venture.
Based on Pyongyang’s ballistic missile tests, the UN in 2016 imposed sanctions that ban North Korea from supplying, directly or indirectly, “gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, and rare earth minerals” and said all states ought to bar their people from obtaining such materials.