Seoul: North Korea wants foreign
companies to help develop what the impoverished communist
state says is its abundance of rare earth metals, a
pro-Pyongyang newspaper said on Saturday.
The Japan-based Chosun Shinbo said on its website that
about 20 million tonnes of rare earth elements had been found
buried in North Korea.
China has 90 million tonnes of rare earth deposits,
Russia has 21 million tonnes while the United States has 14
million tonnes, the report said.
Estimates on the North`s rare earth deposits could
rise if the current digging work finds new burial grounds or
more formations buried deeper in existing sites, it added.
The largest burial deposit was discovered in North
Pyongan Province, the paper said, while the rest of the
elements were distributed in southern and northern parts of
A senior North Korean official of the state natural
resource development agency told the newspaper that North
Korea was encouraging joint ventures with other countries to
develop rare earth metals.
"It is important that these elements must be processed
in this country before being exported," the official, Kim
Hung-Ju, was quoted as saying by the Chosun Shinbo.
The government will put limits on its output and
exports of rare earth materials, Kim added.
Currently, China produces more than 95 percent of the
world`s rare earths -- 17 elements critical to manufacturing
everything from iPods to low-emission cars and missiles.