What Minerals Are In North Korea


North Korea is an East Asian country occupying the northern part of the Korean peninsula. It shares land borders with the Chinese autonomous territory of Heilongjiang, Russia and South Korea. North Korea is mostly a mountainous country with few plains and extensive forests, mainly located in its western region. The country has a temperate continental monsoon climate that is heavily influenced by the Korean mountains, which receive the majority of precipitation during the year. In summer, there is heavy rain and high temperatures, whilst winter brings severe cold with frequent snowstorms.

Natural Resources

North Korea has few natural resources that can be exploited for economic development. Among these are hydroelectric resources, coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and graphite. North Korea has an abundant supply of hydroelectric power, with more than 30 hydroelectric power stations. Coal is another valuable resource and North Korea is estimated to have coal reserves of approximately 200 billion tons. North Korean coal resources are mostly low-rank, but the country is expanding its production of high-grade anthracite coal and is improving the conditions at its coal mines.


North Korea has abundant deposits of minerals and metals and is one of the largest producers of minerals in the world. Common minerals in North Korea are magnetite, coal, precious metal, graphite, asbestos, anthracite coal, talc, calcium carbonate, clay, quartz, pitchblende and molybdenum among others. Magnetite is the most important mineral in North Korea and the country has an estimated 40 million tons of reserves, mostly located around the Otapryong and Masikryang provinces. Magnetite has caught the attention of both local and foreign investors due to its high demand in the steel production industry.
North Korea is also known for its abundance of rare precious metals such as palladium and rhodium, which are mined mostly from the Musan and Yongwen deposits. These metals are used for industrial applications such as automotive catalytic converters and jewelry. North Korea also has substantial reserves of graphite, used in lithium-ion batteries. Graphite mining is one of the biggest industries in the country, with the majority of reserves located in the vicinity of Onchon, North Hamgyong Province.

Mining Industry

The mining industry in North Korea has a long history, with the majority of the operations being state-run by the North Korean government. This industry has been heavily regulated by the government, while international investors were only allowed to lease or acquire mineral concessions after the adoption of the 1992 Mining Law. This law seeks to improve the management and investment practices in the country’s mineral sector.
The mineral industry in North Korea is governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), which provides governance and oversight for the management and exploration of natural resources. It also manages Norway’s foreign investment regulations related to the mineral industry. The MNRE is the primary institution that has the authority to negotiate and approve foreign investment in the mining sector.

Foreign Investment

North Korea has welcomed foreign investment in mining since the adoption of the Mining Law of 1992. The law allows foreign companies to lease or acquire mineral concessions and to explore, develop, and exploit the resources of approved projects. Foreign investments in the mining sector have increased significantly in recent years and the majority of these investments have gone to the Otapryong and Masikryang regions where magnetite is found in abundance.
Foreign investors in North Korea have priority access to land and minerals and tax incentives in order to encourage investment. Despite this, there are several risks associated with foreign investments in North Korea’s mining sector, including political instability, currency devaluation, limited infrastructure, and the lack of transparency in the allocation of mineral concessions.


Safety is another major concern for foreign investors in North Korea’s mining sector. Several international laws and regulations have been imposed on North Korea in order to prevent accidents and improve the health and safety of miners. However, the level of awareness and implementation of these laws in North Korea is rather low. As a result, miners in North Korea are still facing risks when it comes to safety, health, and working conditions.

Economic Impact

Mining is one of the most important industries in North Korea as it provides the country with much-needed income and foreign investment. The income generated from mineral extraction is used to fund economic development and infrastructure projects in the country. In addition, the mining sector provides employment to thousands of North Koreans and contributes to the economic stability of the country.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of mining in North Korea is still not fully known due to the lack of effective environmental regulations and the lack of monitoring systems. The unregulated mining activities in the country have caused some environmental degradation in the form of soil, water and air pollution. In addition, mining waste has caused serious concerns due to its negative effects on the environment, including the production of acid mine drainage. Mining companies have an obligation to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities and a responsibility to increase their level of commitment to environmental protection.


North Korea has abundant reserves of minerals and metals, including magnetite, coal, precious metals, graphite, asbestos, and others. Mining is a major industry in the country, providing much-needed income and foreign investment. The safety of miners and environmental protection are still topics of concern for foreign investors, but the government has taken steps towards improving the management and investment practices in the mining sector.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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