The Government of Zimbabwe, eager to ease the concerns of foreign mining companies, said it will not expropriate mines but instead refine a local ownership law to encourage foreign miners to expand operations in the country.

The reassurance came after the government introduced regulations that forced foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks, to transfer a 51% stake to Zimbabweans.

President Robert Mugabe said the implementation of the empowerment initiative will take into consideration the need to promote the growth of the mining industry.

He told Reuters mechanisms are being refined to ensure investors find it attractive to expand current operations and bring new investment into the country.

According to Zimbabwe’s regulations, enforced on 1 March, foreign-owned companies are required to submit plans illustrating how they will sell 51% of their shares to Zimbabweans within five years.

Foreign investments continue to be on hold on the premise that the government should first implement political and economic reforms and respect the rule of law.

Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Rio Tinto all have mines in Zimbabwe and could be affected by any change to the law on foreign ownership.