China announces restrictions on trade with North Korea
This is a move in line with new United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang. The Security Council unanimously passed a resolution in early March expanding U.N. sanctions aimed at starving North Korea of funds for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes after Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February.
The mining sector is a key part of North Korea's economy, which is already largely cut off from the rest of the world. Experts believe revenue from the sector helps underwrite North Korea's military expenditures.
The ministry said it would also ban coal shipments from North Korea, although it made exemptions consistent with sanctions, including uses intended for "the people's well-being" and not connected to nuclear or missile programmes.
North Korea delivered around 20 million tonnes of coal to China last year, up 27 percent on the year, overtaking Russia and Mongolia to become China's third biggest supplier, behind Australia and Indonesia.
An exception was made for coal originating in third countries and supplied via North Korea's port of Rason. Landlocked Mongolia, looking for alternative supply routes for its commodities, has already signed an agreement with the port that gave its exporters preferential treatment. ■