A Trump-Kim Summit Could Unfreeze Mining Riches on the Korean Border – by Dexter Roberts (Bloomberg News – March 14, 2018)


UN sanctions have hurt minerals businesses where China meets North Korea. The talks could change that.

Sun Hongtao, the youthful-looking president of Sino-Mining International Ltd., is in a funk, sitting in a cold, empty office in the Chinese town of Changbai in Jilin province. Two miles from where he sits, across the border in North Korea, is the huge Hyesan Youth Copper Mine.

Sun’s company has invested more than $123 million in upgrading equipment at the mine with the aim of tapping its rich reserves. But for more than a year, because of United Nations sanctions imposed in 2016 targeting North Korean minerals, all production at the mine has stopped.

“What can we do?” Sun asks. “We can’t just leave all our equipment and the money we’ve invested behind in North Korea.” President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un are considering holding what would be an unprecedented summit meeting.

A critical goal for North Korea is ending economic sanctions imposed to punish the country for developing nuclear weapons. An end to sanctions would transform the largely dormant 880-mile-long China-North Korea border. Towns such as Changbai could become key players in a huge new mineral business.

They could also host trade in textiles, shoes, and other light goods, lifting North Korea’s economic prospects and helping integrate the country into the world. “These border towns are the main channels supplying the North Korean economy,” says Kim Byung-Yeon, an economics expert on North Korea at Seoul National University in Seoul.

For the rest of this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-14/trump-kim-summit-could-unfreeze-china-mining-riches-at-border