Transit of Russian Coal via the DPRK Has Resumed

July 20, 2021

In the face of high coal prices, Russian exporters decided to return to delivering coal to North Korea, despite the need for mandatory coordination with the UN agencies and the potential risks of sanctions. In the first quarter of 2021, for the first time since 2018, 15 thousand tons of coal were supplied from Russia to the DPRK, which were then probably redirected in transit to China via the port of Rajin. Analysts remind that in conditions of a shortage of transshipment capacities in the Far East, Rajin has its advantages, but not for all exporters they outweigh the fear of sanctions.

High coal prices and a lack of export capacity in the east of the Russian Federation have led to the resumption of Russian coal deliveries via the DPRK. According to statistics from the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), in the first quarter of 2021 Russia delivered 15 thousand tons of coal worth $836.700 to North Korea by rail. Based on the available statistics, Russia previously exported coal to the DPRK from 2011 to 2017.

The point of these shipments is to use the North Korean non-freezing port of Rajin with annual throughput capacity of 5 million tons, in operation since the end of 2013, for further export of coal. Railway communication with the port is carried out along the Khasan-Rajin railroad line. From the port, coal can be delivered to South Korea and China. The project is managed by the “Rasoncontrans” joint venture, 70% of which is owned by the Russian side (represented by “Russian Railways”), and 30% by the DPRK.





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