South Korea plans to increase its spending on the development and purchase of overseas mines by nearly 10 percent next year to significantly boost its energy self sufficiency, the government said Friday.
According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the government is requesting 1.31 trillion won (US$1.1 billion) in its budget plan for next year to be earmarked for the development of overseas energy and resources. The amount represents a 9.8 percent increase from this year's budget.
"Increased cooperation with newly emerging economies and resource-rich countries is a must as the global competition to secure energy and resources is intensifying," the ministry said in a press release.
The proposed increase surpasses the 5.5 percent gain in the government's overall budget request for 2012. The government budget bill was to be submitted to parliament later Friday.
Under the ministry's proposal, the government will invest 760 billion won, up 50 billion won from this year, in the state-run Korea National Oil Corp. specifically to purchase or develop overseas mines.
The Korea Resources Corp. will also receive 220 billion won, up from 180 billion won this year, for the same purpose while an additional 300 billion won will be invested in private companies engaged in the development of foreign mines, the ministry said.
This, it said, will increase the country's oil and natural self-sufficiency rate, or the rate of oil and natural gas developed and mined by South Korea to the country's total consumption, from the current 14 percent to 20 percent. Six major natural resources, including uranium, will also have their rate raised from the current 29 percent to 32 percent.
Meanwhile, the ministry said its total spending next year will increase 2.1 percent from this year to a little over 16.1 trillion won.
The increase partly comes from a 3.5 percent increase in its spending on research and development to 4.68 trillion won, which will help create 30,000 new jobs, it added.