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FILE PHOTO: An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/File Photo - RC19CE366E30r

HARARE (Reuters) - London-listed Vast Resources will next week sign an agreement with Zimbabwe’s state diamond mining firm to prospect and mine diamonds in the east of the country, the mines minister and a company official said on Friday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is stepping up efforts to exploit its mineral resources to revive an economy crippled by triple-digit inflation and high unemployment, with Mnangagwa desperate to woo investors, some of whom abandoned the country during the rule of the late Robert Mugabe.

Mines Minister Winston Chitando said Vast had formed a company, Katanga Mining Pvt Ltd, with the community in the eastern Chiadzwa diamond fields.

That company would sign a joint venture mining agreement with Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company which holds the mining rights, he said. A Vast Resources official confirmed the deal. Financial details would be disclosed at the signing of the agreement, the minister and the official said.

Vast Resources will join new entrants like Russia’s Alrosa as well as unlisted Chinese firm Anjin Investments.

Anjin was forced out from the Chiadzwa fields in 2016 along with other miners, with Mugabe’s government saying their licences had expired after they declined to merge under the state-owned mining company.

Few miners doubt the potential of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources, with its diamond, platinum and lithium deposits considered among the biggest in the world.

But investors are concerned about how much money companies can take out because of acute dollar shortages. Many big miners are taking a cautious approach.

Mnangagwa will on Monday launch an ambitious plan to increase investment in mining and raise the sector’s export earnings to $12 billion by 2023 from $3.2 billion last year, Chitando said. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after breaking the two-hour barrier for the marathon, Oct. 12, 2019, in Vienna.

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge made athletics history Saturday when he became the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours although his remarkable effort will not be recognized by the sport’s governing body.

The Olympic marathon champion and world record holder completed a course around Vienna’s Prater Park in one hour 59:40 minutes on a cool, misty and windless autumnal morning.

Guided by rotating seven-man teams of pacesetters, many of themselves renowned athletes, and an electric pacecar that shone green lasers onto the track, Kipchoge averaged around 2.50 minutes per kilometer.

He reached the halfway mark in 59:35, 11 seconds inside the target, and ran remarkably consistently with his one-kilometer times fluctuating between 2.48 and 2.52 seconds.

For the last kilometer, the pacemakers and car peeled away and Kipchoge pointed to the crowd and smiled as he completed the run.

Kipchoge, who before the race compared the achievement to landing on the moon, said it was the biggest athletics milestone since Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier in 1954.

“I am feeling good, after Roger Bannister it took another 65 years to make history,” he said. “Now I’ve gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world that nobody is limited.”

“I can say I’m tired. It was a hard run. Remember, the pacemakers are among the best athletes in the world, I appreciate them for doing the job.”

“It means a lot for Kenya,” he added.

The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) has said it would not recognize the run as an official record because it was not in open competition and it used in and out pacemakers although its president, Sebastian Coe, had welcomed the record attempt.

The run, organized and funded by the British chemical company INEOS and dubbed the INEOS 1.59 challenge, was Kipchoge’s second attempt to break the barrier, having missed by 26 seconds in Monza two years ago.

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