State-run Korea Resources Corp. (KORES) is planning to invest at least US$532 million (600 billion won) in mining projects abroad this year, particularly in the coal sector of Indonesia and North America, reports Bloomberg.
KORES, a consortium of South Korean companies, is targeting first Mongolia’s gigantic Tavan Tolgoi coal project, in which it wants at least a 10% stake, a larger stake than the government previously awarded to a Russia-Mongolia consortium.
"South Korea wants a stake that enables [us] to have the right to participate in [project] management," KORES President and Chief Executive Kim Shin-jong told reporters.
KORES has been leading South Korea's drive to increase self-sufficiency in key mineral resources such as iron ore, coal, copper and rare metals to feed its manufacturing-based economy, ranked Asia's fourth-largest.
The Tavan Tolgoi deposit – mined since the 60s – in the South Gobi desert is the world’s largest with a 6 billion tonne resource of high-quality coking coal used in steelmaking.
Metallurgical coal has been trading at around the $220–$235 per tonne level in January this year, down from record levels of $330/tonne last year.
Mongolia has also resumed talks with international miners on developing the western block of Tavan Tolgoi, which on its own holds 1.2 billion tonnes after a shambolic bidding process that stretches back to 2007.
Tavan Tolgoi is the second largest mining investment in Mongolia behind Oyu Tolgoi.