Gold Mining Stopped to Unify Funds

Approximately two months prior to the purge of Jang Sung Taek, the North Korean authorities halted
exports of gold ore from the mines of Hwanghae Province in the southwest of the
country, Daily NK has learned.

The step allegedly followed the discovery of improprieties in the
operation of mining enterprises managed by persons linked with Jang, and formed part
of measures designed to bring foreign currency-earning activities en masse under strict
Central Party control.

“The order to halt exports was handed down in October, some
months before the official news of the purge of Jang Sung Taek,” a source
involved in the industry told Daily NK on the 27th. “It was even
applied to foreign currency-earners affiliated with Central Party organs, as well as those from normal provincial-level agencies.”

“A directive ordering operations to cease from the second
half of the year was issued to Holdong and Eunpa mines in Yeonsan County, North
Hwanghae Province. These mines are shut now and their shafts are just filling up
with water,” the source went on. “Mine officials have told me that this order came down stating that neither provincial nor Central Party
managed-enterprises were allowed to mine for gold.”

“By doing this just a few months before the Jang
Song Taek purge, the authorities moved to integrate foreign currency-earning
activities and confiscate those enterprises and funds formerly managed by Jang
prior to his purging,” he added. Explicating his view of the logic behind the
step, he went on, “[The authorities] wish to greatly reinforce their control
over these foreign-currency earning enterprises’ resources so as to bring
together the management of Kim Jong Eun’s ruling funds.”  

“I am told that they discovered that the enterprises Jang was
managing had not been passing their profits to the state in the prescribed manner,
so they halted the trade completely” the source alleged. “They controlled the
mines, saying that the reason was because Jang was flogging off natural
resources for a low price.”

“Previously, only ore with a purity of 20-30g of gold per ton
could be exported, so any ore with a lower purity than this was not controlled.
But now they are stopping all gold ore from exiting,” he went on to explain,
adding that the ban is causing serious problems for the region’s miners, many of
whom rely in large part on income from the mines for their survival.

“They used to share export licenses with other enterprises
and export ore that way, too, but right now that is also totally prohibited,”
he added.