Zimbabwe's largest platinum mine agrees to sell shares to gov't under black empowerment laws

Zimbabwe's largest platinum mining company says it has signed a deal to sell off its majority shareholding to the government as part of the country's black empowerment laws.

South African-owned Zimplats chief Terence Goodlace said Friday the sale, worth $971 million, was "non-binding" until the end of June when the Zimbabwe government must pay $153 million for what he called a "release of ground agreement" and meet other obligations.

It is the biggest handover in several years of an empowerment program to force foreign-owned mines to cede 51 percent control to black Zimbabweans.

The mining enterprise will lend Zimbabwe the money to buy the majority stake at 10 percent interest and the loan is to be repaid in regular dividends.

Zimbabwe is one of the world's largest producers of platinum.