S. Korea to test-transport Russian coal import via DPRK port

Updated: 2014-11-24 17:30


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SEOUL - South Korea plans to test-transport coal imported from Russia this week through the Democratic People' s Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s port city of Rajin to verify feasibility of the logistics cooperation project between the three countries, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday, citing a Seoul's unification ministry official.

The upcoming test run comes after South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a summit meeting in Seoul in November last year, when the two leaders agreed to let a consortium of South Korean firms join the Russia- DPRK railway project linking the DPRK's Rajin port to Russia's border city of Khasan.

Thirteen officials from the consortium, including steelmaker POSCO, shipping firm Hyundai Merchant Marine and state-run Korail Corp, and the South Korean government arrived in the Rajin port earlier in the day after crossing the DPRK-Russia border from Russia, the unification ministry official was quoted as saying.

The officials are scheduled to stay in the Rajin port until Friday to oversee the whole process of shipping about 40,500 tons of flaming coal, transported via the 54-kilometer Rajin-Khasan railway from Russia, toward the South Korean southern port city of Pohang.

If weather conditions are good, the ship carrying the Russian coal is expected to arrive in Pohang at about 10 p.m. local time on Saturday after departing from the Rajin port at around 10 a.m. on Friday.

Success in two rounds of pilot shipment would lead to the signing by the South Korean consortium of the Russia-DPRK deal that was launched in 2007 to renovate the 54-kilometer railway and modernize the DPRK port as part of efforts to develop the DPRK city as a major transshipping port in Northeast Asia.

The consortium has been pushing to join the project by purchasing Russian stakes in the project. If implemented, the project importing coal from Russia via the DPRK port would reduce the coal-shipping costs of POSCO.