South Korea says it reached an agreement with a Chinese-led consortium on a 85.1 billion won ($73 million) deal to salvage a ferry that sunk in an accident that killed more than 300 people in April last year.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Tuesday that the consortium led by China's state-run firm Shanghai Salvage Co. plans to raise the 6,800-ton Sewol by about July next year. The formal contract could be signed as early as Wednesday.

South Korea approved plans to salvage the Sewol in April, accepting demands from the victims' families who staged fierce protests in the capital Seoul for months. The relatives hope that raising the ship will reveal details about the cause of the sinking and help find the bodies of nine passengers still missing.