South Africa is looking at establishing its own metals exchange as part of a wider government plan to extract more value from the country's huge mineral wealth, much of which is exported as ore rather than being refined and processed locally.

In a speech this week, Mines minister Susan Shabangu stressed the importance of domestic metals exchanges in extracting maximum socio-economic benefits from mineral deposits.

Ministry spokesman Bheki Khumalo said on Friday the department had started to look into the possibility of setting up an exchange, although stressed that it was still very early days.

Ideally that is what South Africa would like to have, Khumalo said. But the details have not been worked out.

South Africa is the world number one platinum producer and a top gold and coal exporter, but in 2008 only 11 percent in volume terms of the material extracted from the ground was processed locally.

The government has been pressing for more downstream processing to boost national revenues and create desperately needed jobs, but concerns about rigid labour markets and intermittent power supply have dampened investment.