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2012.02.28 17:56:02 | 2012.02.28 18:15:27
South Korea’s Sangdong Mines - located in Yeongwol-gun, Gangwon Province and also known as the largest tungsten reserve in terms of size - will be reopening after 20 years of abandonment as it is injected with an $80 billion investment.
The Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC), an Israel-based metal processing company, inked an investment contract worth $70 million (roughly 79 billion won) with Sangdong Mining, said Yeongwol-gun and sources in the mining industry Tuesday. The IMC group is owned 80 percent by Warren Buffett, known to be the wealthiest and most successful investor in the world.
A review last month by Wardrop, a mining exploration and feasibility assessment agency, estimated the upper levels of the mines to hold roughly 16.43 million tons (t) of the mineral, with a potential additional capacity of 19.37 million t. Earlier in 2007, Canadian exploration company Oriental Minerals (OTL) estimated the value of tungsten and molybdenum reserves at the Sangdong Mines at $60 billion. Furthermore, the upper levels of the mines offer copious reserves that could sustain 10 years of mining activities, say industry sources.
The Sangdong Mines’ heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, when the mined products accounted for up to 70 percent of Korea’s outbound exports. The opening of the Chinese market in 1980s caused the tungsten prices to tumble, however, and the mines were forced to close in 1994 due to low margins. Recently, the swift pace of industrialization in developing economies has driven up demand for tungsten, while the decision by China (responsible for 80 percent of global tungsten supplies) to reduce its tungsten export quota allowed prices to rise, making the mines a feasible venture for investment.
[Written by Seok-woo Chung - Samji Chung / edited by Soyoung Chung]