Sunday, August 21, 2011

North Korea seeking hard currency through rare earth metals?

Oh, those communists and their attempts to bring the West to their knees by hoarding all the rare earth metals. We've already seen it with China (!) and probably a few Cold War-era James Bond villains, and now North Korea may be ready to work from the same playbook.

Quoting the Asahi Shimbun:
North Korea is eager to dig into its rare earth elements in a fresh bid to obtain foreign currencies amid soaring prices of the minerals in the global market.

Experts say China may hold the key to the fate of the country's attempt as it relies on Beijing to finance the development and production of rare earth elements.

As the competition among countries over rare earth elements, crucial to the manufacture of high-tech products, intensifies, Pyongyang is paying more attention to the global race to secure the minerals.

According to North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency, the Minju Choson (Democratic Korea), the official government newspaper, carried reports on the topic twice this month.

The report said that Japan is dependent on China for supply of the minerals because it accounts for 90 percent of the global output and that China has moved to cut exports.
Jiminy frickin' Christmas, Japan just cannot get a break.

Anyway, I guess as far as attempts to gain hard currency go, I'd rather the North Koreans be trying to sell lanthanum than pushing methamphetamine. The question is whether some governments appalled by the Pyongyang regime's human rights abuse will allow their companies to engage in trade with the DPRK. I suppose Beijing could get around it by mixing their europium up with North Korea's (you know, like how bad housing loans were mixed up with good ones and sold as high-rated instruments).
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