China’s Hebei Zhongheng Tianda Platinum (HZT) has signed an agreement to acquire Eastern Platinum’s (Eastplats) South African subsidiary Barplats Mines for $50m.

Barplats Mines owns the Crocodile River mine, as well as associated intercorporate investments and loans.

Following completion of the deal, HZT will assume operating responsibility for the mine and ownership of Barplats Mines.

Ownership of Eastern Limb projects, which include the Mareesburg, Spitzkop and Kennedy’s Vale sites, will be retained by Eastplats.

"While the PGM sector remains under pressure, closing the transaction will leave Eastplats extremely well capitalised."

Eastplats president and CEO David Cohen said: "We are pleased that HZT’s plans to inject foreign capital and the creation of much needed jobs will stimulate socio-economic development in areas surrounding the CRM mine.

"While the PGM sector remains under pressure, closing the transaction will leave Eastplats extremely well capitalised."

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The acquisition is subject to certain conditions, including approvals by the necessary regulatory bodies in South Africa.

The Crocodile River mine is located on the western part of the Bushveld Complex, near the town of Brits in North West Province of South Africa.

In December 2003, the mine was placed on care and maintenance due to increasing Rand exchange rate and the contractors’ inability to mine the operation using mechanised mining methods.

After it was reopened in 2004, it has undergone development and refurbishment of surface facilities.

Crocodile River mine development in 2010 comprised underground electrical upgrades, and ongoing underground works at the Zandfontein vertical shaft, including dam construction for underground water control.