By Lee Joon-seung
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to develop two resource rich regions in North Korea that can benefit both countries and fuel cross-border economic cooperation, the government said Thursday.
The blueprint calls for more funds to be funneled into North Korea so prospective developers can conduct geological surveys and compile detailed data for future reference, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said.
Resource-poor South Korea imports most raw materials to operate its heavy industry-centered economy. Lack of social infrastructure and mining knowhow have prevented North Korea from fully developing resources.
The ministry said the Dancheon region in South Hamgyeong province on the east coast and the Haeju-Nampo region in the western part of the country will be developed in the future.
"Dacheon has two or three mines that hold promise for future development," said a ministry official. He said the area is to be built up as a special resources zone with emphasis being placed on constructing electricity generating plants, power cables, and railways.
These facilities, he said, can fuel development of natural resources in the area.
For the Haeju-Nampo region, the ministry said it is offering support so that local companies can obtain development rights for limestone, graphite and phosphate.
State-run Korea Resources Corp. already holds a 50 percent stake in a graphite manufacturing facility that ships products to South Korea.
Industry insiders said both these projects promise hope for enhancing economic cooperation that currently relies on business conducted at the Kaesong industrial complex and tourism to Mount Geumgang. These two projects are considered the crowning achievements of the June, 2000 summit meeting between leaders of the two Koreas in Pyongyang.
The ministry, meanwhile, said due to the importance placed on foreign resource development, the country plans to allocate about US$1.0 billion in this effort next year. This is an increase from the $639.0 million that has been spent this year.
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