With increasingly cordial and positive steps toward a normalization of relations between North and South Korea made possible by a strong, targeted push by the Trump administration, there is a possibility of the building of near-term economic ties to help North Korea.
Pyongyang’s immediate ticket to the global economy, if all normalization proceeds on the current trajectory, is its mineral resources.
North Korea has mineral resources estimated to be worth at least $6 to $10 trillion. Of the identified resources, deposits of coal, iron ore, magnesite, gold ore, zinc ore, copper ore, limestone, molybdenite, tungsten and graphite are the most significant.
Its magnesite reserves are the second largest in the world, following China, and its tungsten deposits the sixth largest. These resources all have the potential for the development of large-scale mines. North Korea’s bedrock also holds a large amount of metals needed to make smartphones and other technological products. Nobody knows the true value.
Gold mines are located in Pyongan, magnesite mines are mainly distributed in Hamgyong, while iron ore is found in the provinces of Pyongan, Hamgyong and Hwanghae. Large-scale infrastructure projects would obviously need to be built in the highly secretive state, which appears to be seeking a way out of economic sanctions.
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