Dr Louis Schurmann, reportedly a fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, is a Director of SRE Minerals; the company embroiled in a controversial mining deal with the government-run Korea Natural Resources Trading Corporation.
According to the ABC, “One of the deals involves the mining of a potential deposit of 216 million tonnes of rare earths.” If this report is correct it would make the deposit, called the Jongju mining project, one of the world’s largest for rare earths and represent an economic windfall for the North Korean Government.
“Late last year, a British Virgin Islands-based private equity firm, SRE Minerals, signed a joint venture with the regime-run Korea Natural Resources Trading Corporation to develop the site for the next 25 years,” the ABC is reporting.
The ABC reports that is has obtained correspondence between a human rights activist, Ken Kato, and Dr Schurmann, in which the activist warns the geologist that the Jongju project could be in violation of United Nations resolution 2094.
“Have you ever thought that doomsday prophets like your [sic] cause most of the problems?? What we are doing is making a difference … a POSITIVE one … try it,” Dr Schurmann wrote in return.
UN Security Council resolution 2094, passed in response to North Korea’s 2013 nuclear weapons test, bans the transfer of any financial or other assets, or resources “that could contribute to the DPRK’s [North Korea’s] nuclear or ballistic missile programs”.
Rare earth minerals are used in modern weapons such as guided missiles.
The Sanctions Section of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has reportedly been contacted by Mr Kato in relation to the matter.
The Department is so far refusing to confirm whether they have launched an investigation into Dr Schurmann and his involvement in the mining project.