UK-based SRE Minerals recently announced the discovery of a large rare earth deposit in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), better known as North Korea; the company believes it could be one of the biggest rare earth deposits anywhere in the world. Concurrently, SRE signed a joint venture agreement with Korea Natural Resources Trading for the rights to develop rare earth element (REE) deposits at Jongju, located north of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, for the next 25 years. The agreement includes an opportunity to renew for a further 25 years. Through the joint venture, a new British Virgin Islands-based company called Pacific Century Rare Earth Minerals was created. That company has been granted the right to create a processing plant at the site in Jongju. Initial assessments of the Jongju project indicate a total deposit of some 6 billion tonnes of mineralization; that includes 216.2 million tonnes of rare earth oxides, from light REEs like cerium to heavy REEs, which are more valuable. The lead scientist on the project, Dr. Louis Schurmann of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, confirmed in a release that the Jongju deposit is the largest known in the world. "This joint venture agreement reinforces the strong and constructive relationship SRE has developed with the DPRK over [the period of exploration]," Mining Weekly quotes Schurmann as saying. "The REE resource potential of the DPRK, while estimated to be massive, has only been lightly explored to date. Given the major economic significance of the effective utilization of these important minerals to the DPRK, we look forward to working in close cooperation with our partner to progress the development of this excellent opportunity."