Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - South Africa's new mining minister is in the middle of selling shares in a mining company to avoid a conflict of interest, his spokesman said on Friday after a media report that he had a sizeable stake in a platinum venture.

Mahlodi Muofhe, a spokesman for Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who recently mediated in a five-month platinum strike, said the shares belonged to Ramatlhodi's wife but were being sold as “he realised they presented a conflict of interest”.

Muofhe did not reveal details of the holdings, but said his lawyer was in the process of “effecting the sale” of the shares.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper said Ramatlhodi owned shares in Atlatsa Resources, a black economic empowerment partner of top platinum producer Anglo American Platinum , which was hit by the strike, the longest and costliest in South African history.

The newspaper estimated the value of the stake at 20 million rand.

Ramatlhodi, a former advocate who became mining minister a month ago, was a central figure in negotiations to end the platinum strike, which officially ended this week. - Reuters