Government cashing gold
Pyongyang has been secretly selling gold to make up for shortages of hard currency after it spent millions of dollars to celebrate the 100th birthday of its founder, a news report said yesterday. The Chosun Ilbo daily quoted sources in China as saying that the impoverished communist state had cashed more than two tonnes of gold worth US$100 million in China over the past year. “North Korea has been exporting not only gold ingots it had obtained from mines or stored in government agencies, but gold trinkets it had collected from ordinary people,” an ethnic Korean businessman told the daily. “North Korean trading companies in China have been cashing the gold in secrecy,” the source said. “For this purpose, North Koreans are compelled to sell gold trinkets to government authorities.”
US firm stops using lead
US battery giant Johnson Controls will stop lead processing at a plant in Shanghai, the firm said, after the city found high levels of the metal in children living nearby. The Fortune 500 company has denied the plant’s operations caused elevated lead exposure for people living in Shanghai’s Kangqiao area. However, Johnson Controls said in a statement it would stop lead processing at the facility in response to Shanghai authorities’ moves to “remove lead manufacturing from the community.” In February, Shanghai blamed Johnson Controls and two local companies for causing lead poisoning in 49 children, most of them aged between one and three. The city has already shut the other two firms, Shanghai Xinmingyuan Automobile Parts Co Ltd and Shanghai Kangshuo Waste Recycling Co Ltd, state media have reported.
Drone strike kills five
A US drone strike on Monday killed at least five Islamic militants in the restive tribal region near the Afghan border, security officials said. The strike targeted a compound in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, known as a bastion for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The drone fired two missiles, they said. A security official in Miranshah said that five militants had been killed. “This area has sanctuaries for all groups of Taliban and foreign militants,” the official said. Another security official in Peshawar confirmed the death toll. There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in the country since May, when a NATO summit in Chicago failed to strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Miners die in pit plunge
A coal mining accident in Gansu Province yesterday left 20 miners dead and 14 injured, state media said, in the latest incident to hit the industry. The cable of a rail carriage taking workers into the mine in Gansu Province snapped, sending the 34 miners plummeting into the pit, Xinhua news agency reported. The injured have been transported to hospital, including three who were in a serious condition, it said. Officials at the Baiyin city work safety administration, which oversees the Qusheng mine, refused to comment when contacted by reporters. Accidents are common in the country’s mining industry because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits. Yesterday’s accident followed a gas explosion at a colliery in the Sichuan Province last month that killed 43 miners.
Army reports shelling