File photo: CEO of the world's second-largest platinum produce, Implats, David Brown (L) and Zimbabwe's Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere hold a joint press conference in Harare.

Harare - South African platinum giant Implats on Friday agreed to cede 51 percent of its shares in its Zimbabwe-based operation Zimplats for 971 million dollars, in order to be in compliance with the southern African country's policy of empowering previously disadvantaged black citizens.

Terence Goodlance, the chief executive of Implats, who signed the deal for his company, said the agreement came after 18 months of negotiations with the Zimbabwean government.

“This deal agreement lays the foundation for the creation of a sustainable Zimbabwean platinum mining company, capable of attracting the investment needed to deliver future benefits to our shareholders, the people of Zimbabwe, our employees and the local community,” he said.

Under Zimbabwe's “indigenisation” policy, all foreign companies are to cede a majority stake to local Zimbabweans.

The 51-percent stake will be divided between a National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, a community share ownership scheme and a programme for employees.

In an interview after the signing ceremony, Zimbabwean Indigenisation Minister Savior Kasukuwere said Implats would be paid from future dividends.

“We can't ask poor Zimbabweans to fork out their money to buy ore which is in their land,” he said, adding that: “This policy is meant to reverse the colonial imbalances.” Implats - the world's second-largest platinum producer after Anglo American - becomes the fourth mining company to agree to cede its majority stake to black Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe was ruled by a white minority regime until 1979. - Sapa-dpa