Development of Uranium Mines in Songhak-ri, Hoiryeong

Shin Joo Hyun, Chief Reporter, Lee Sung Jin  |  2007-12-12 12:11
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[imText1]Yanji, China -- An inside source said on the 10th that last September, 500 engineering soldiers of the People's Army and mining apparatus came into Songhak-ri, Hoiryeong in North Hamkyung on a large scale and pursued development of the Uranium mines, but have stopped development since November due to weather-related reasons and evacuated after leaving the military to guard the equipment.

Since last month, DailyNK was carrying out a verification project by obtaining intelligence that the engineering soldiers thrown into the Yongchun region, Songhak-ri in Hoiryeong were in the midst of carrying out development of the Uranium mines. An inside source said on the 10th that after confirming with a related person of the engineering army unit in the region, the project had to be ceased due to the cold weather and the freezing of the ground.

The source relayed, "The unit said they ceased mining development due to the weather, but the people in the region have said that the uranium reserves was too small, so the army was going to reassess the business potential."

Huh Soo Lim (pseudonym), who is of a Korean-Chinese, is residing in Sanhe, China and is familiar with the internal situation in Hoiryeong, said that the development of the Yonchun uranium mine started in September. 500 engineering soldiers of the People's Army constructed a billeting place in Yongchun, Songhak-ri on the 19th of September. Subsequently, the mining equipment arrived in Hoiryeong via train on the 22nd. These large-sized equipments were mostly made by the former Soviet Union.

Kim Shin Hyung, who is the Assistant Bureau Chief of Nuclear Energy, visited Songhak-ri, Yongchun on the 6th of October. This region was known as the place where a Uranium mine propriety investigation was carried out by the Nuclear Energy Bureau. Not only uranium mines but molybdenum was also extracted, so the method of exporting to China was also discussed.

Huh said, "When the mine of molybdenum became known, Chinese businessmen gathered in this region, but due to the difficulty in serious production, they took a step back. For now, a portion of molybdenum will be produced until April or May of next year, and the active production of uranium will not begin until the latter half of the year."

According to the announcement of the South Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, uranium immediately available for digging has reached around 4 million tons in North Korea. The total coal reserve is around 26 million tons, similar to the total reserves of other regions. The People's Army 3rd Engineering Unit assumed full responsibility in places like Shincheon in Hwanghae and Kangwon to mine uranium. Whether or not the uranium has been saved or exported has not been publicized. However, many believe that it is entirely being exported to China or Russia.
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