SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean researchers have argued that up to 16 trillion won could be saved if half of South Korea’s imports of mineral resources could be replaced by those from North Korea.
Hong Soong-jik, a member of Kookmin University’s Korea Institute of Future, said at a forum on Wednesday that North Korea’s mineral resources are valued at over $3.9 trillion, nearly 24 times more than what can be found in South Korea.
During the forum on North Korean mineral resources, which was held at Best Western Premier Seoul Garden Hotel in Seoul, Hong argued that while South Korea imports around 30.7 trillion won worth of mineral resources from other countries each year, replacing the imports with North Korean resources would see the country save up to 16.6 trillion won.
Among the types of mineral sources with significant potential included gold, zinc, iron, copper, molybdenum, magnesite, crystalline graphite and apatite.
Tungsten and molybdenum are among the most coveted mineral resources, as the two are among the top 10 rare types of mineral resources sought after by the South Korean government.
Go Soo-seok, who is a member of the JoongAng Ilbo’s cultural unification studies center, also emphasized that despite not having access to mineral resources in North Korea due to sanctions that make it almost impossible to develop them, South Korea needs to get one step ahead of others and prepare for a time when sanctions against North Korea are lifted.
Go claims that Japan is keeping an eye on rare-earth elements, while the U.S. is chasing after gold, and China covets iron ore and coal.
“Japanese companies that are reminiscent of the colonization period still have interest in North Korea’s mineral resources. If U.S. president Donald Trump is interested in North Korea for any reason, it will be because of its gold,” Go claimed.
“To tackle the issue of heavy reliance on mineral resources for South Korea and further secure the resources in the future, we must cooperate with North Korea and develop together the mineral sources buried in in the North,” said Kim Yeong-min, the CEO of the Korea Resources Corporation.