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Hunchun sees new benefits of location on the border

Updated: 2011-02-22

HUNCHUN, Jilin - A city in Northeast China is aiming to import coal from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as part of its effort to establish an international coal production base in the border area.

Hunchun, a city wedged between the DPRK and Russia, has coal reserves of 1.2 billion tons, and supplies the fuel to Jilin, Liaoning, Jiangsu and Shangdong provinces. It currently produces about 6 million tons of coal annually.

"We plan to raise our production to more than 10 million tons a year by importing and exploiting coal both from the DPRK and Russia," said a senior Hunchun city official, who declined to be named.

In January, coal was shipped for the first time from Hunchun to Shanghai via the DPRK port of Rajin, following a deal made by a Chinese company to renovate that port.

The 20,000 tons of coal mined in Hunchun reached Shanghai in three days in the transportation trial. Normally, it takes more than 10 days to transport that amount of coal by train from Hunchun to Shanghai.

"We will try to deliver coal by this new shipping route in the future, because it saved a lot of money in transportation costs," the government officer said.

The city government also intends to transmit the electricity power generated by its coal-fired power plant to the DPRK.

China has been striving to establish an international sea route through the two countries to boost bilateral trade.

Dalian-based Chuangli Group invested 30 million yuan ($4.6 million) in improvements to Rajin last year, according to officials.

The Dalian group expanded the port's annual shipping capacity to 1 million tons last year, after reaching a deal to lease and reconstruct it in 2009.

Hunchun officials said the city's foreign trade volume has quadrupled in the past three years, thanks to improved international shipping.

By taking advantage of cross-border energy production and transportation, Huchun expects its coal production to rise by 22 percent during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

The Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported earlier that the DPRK plans to cooperate with Chinese enterprises on exploiting mineral resources in Hamgyeongbuk-do in the DPRK, which has about 200 million tons in coal reserves.

By Bao Chang

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