China and North Korea are expected to sign a deal to jointly mine and process the North’s reserves of metals including rare earths and gold, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a person with knowledge of the deal.
The agreement is likely to be signed between China’s Commerce Ministry and North Korea’s Joint Venture Investment Committee on Feb. 15, or one day before the birthday of the North’s leader Kim Jong Il, the Feb. 6 report said. The deal may include setting up a joint venture company in Hong Kong, Yonhap said.
Mineral resources including coal make up more than 30 percent of North Korea’s exports through China, according to the report. Trade between North Korea and China reached $3.1 billion in the first 11 months of last year, a 9.6 percent increase over the 2008 total of $2.7 billion, Yonhap reported.
The deal may also include anthracite coal used in making steel, the report said.
[-By Stuart Biggs]