Via Russia Times:
The impoverished, isolationist nation of North Korea may be on the way to becoming even more of a geo-political hotspot than it already is with the discovery of enormous deposits of rare earth minerals. As demands rise and nations scramble to take their piece of the rare earth pie, Pyongyang might find itself in a position of unheralded economic strength. Or the next war-torn battlefield…
North Korea’s is set to have the world’s second-largest magnesite reserves, and its tungsten deposits are almost the world’s sixth-largest. The country also holds sizeable deposits of coal, iron ore, gold, zinc, copper, limestone, molybdenum, and graphite.
About 40% of the 138 Chinese companies registered as doing business in North Korea in 2010, are engaged in extracting minerals, according to the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Rich rare earths deposits are considered the most lucrative piece of the North Korean resource pie. Rare earths include 17 minerals used for many modern technologies like hybrid cars, weapons, flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, and mercury lights.
China has about 30% of the rare earths deposits and currently accounts for more than 90% of global supply. REM prices have become more costly after Beijing imposed export quotas and limited the number of companies licensed to sell them abroad.