Amid sputtering intermittent operations at Musan Mine, beset by chronic shortages of power, massive cuts in the onsite workforce are reportedly underway.
“Two months ago, operations at Musan Mine
came to a complete halt,” a source based in the
province told the Daily NK on Monday. “With the
prolonged suspension, there had been rumors of potential layoffs late last
year, and starting this month, they have officially starting cutting people.”
Musan Mine is North Korea’s largest iron ore deposit, estimated to be sitting on roughly
3 billion tons of the lucrative mineral substance. Annual production is
projected to stand at roughly 6.5 million tons with a workforce of
Roughly 10,000 workers, making up 40
percent of the mine’s workforce, are expected to lose
their jobs in this massive layoff, with plans to execute the process as swiftly
as possible to avoid doling out more monthly rations and wages. Back in 2013, the mine announced it would raise workers’ salaries to 300,000 KPW [37.5 USD] but as recently reported by Daily NK, employees have only been paid
30,000 KPW [3.75 USD].
“The halt in production at Musan Mine keeps
dragging on, so the cutback is inevitable because the company cannot guarantee
the livelihoods of its workers,” the source explained. “Workers that arrive late to the job, duck out early, or fail to show
up at all without proper excuse or notice are the first ones on the list for
The primary reason for this massive cut
stems from the severe drought that hit the North in spring last year, he went on to add. Additionally, exports to China have been cut off after the North
rejected a demand from China asking that iron ore prices be lowered to 50 USD a
ton. Because of this, the supply of foreign currency, workers’ meals, and oil that came from China were abruptly severed.
For most, the focal concern is what happens next, as no jobs are guaranteed
to those laid off. “Officials at the mine may say that
they’re struggling with deciding on whose names to add
to the list, and workers are irate, saying that ‘they can’t get away with this!’” the
source said, noting that the surrounding village has been cast into a state of “unrest” because of the cutbacks.