Vast Resources set to mine Zimbabwe diamond territory

HARARE/LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - London-listed miner Vast Resources is to be allowed into Zimbabwe's diamond fields, Mining Minister Winston Chitando said on Thursday, joining other new entrants including Russia'sAlrosa.

Zimbabwe is stepping up efforts to exploit its mineral resources to revive a moribund economy sapped by high inflation and unemployment, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa looking to woo investors after a soft coup in 2017 that usurped former president Robert Mugabe.

"In principle it is agreed," Chitando told Reuters, referring to Vast Resources being allowed the right to mine the diamond fields.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana Diamonds in May to form a special purpose vehicle to develop resources in Zimbabwe.

Few miners doubt the potential of Zimbabwe's mineral resources and it is among the world's leading diamond-producing countries. But investors are concerned about how much money companies can take out because of dollar shortages. Many big miners are taking a cautious approach.

Mugabe accused Anglo American unit De Beers of looting the largest diamond fields in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe, where production is dominated by state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. De Beers denied the charge.

In early 2016 Mugabe's government evicted all diamond miners from Marange, saying their licences had expired after they declined to merge under the state-owned mining company.

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