Sierra Leone pastor finds huge 706-carat diamond
[March 17 2017]
Government says gem will be sold with a 'transparent'
bidding process to the benefit of the community and country.
A picture of the 706-carat diamond discovered in
Sierra Leone [Saidu Bah/AFP]
A pastor in Sierra Leone has unearthed a 706-carat
diamond, according to the government, in one of the largest precious
stone finds ever made worldwide.
The discovery was made by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh in an
artisanal mine in the village of Koyadu in eastern Kono district, a
government statement said on Thursday.
"A 706-carat diamond was presented to President Dr
Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday evening," the statement said.
"Receiving the diamond President Koroma thanked the
chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond out of the country,"
it added, referring to the Tankoro chiefdom where Momoh uncovered the
The diamond will be sold in Sierra Leone with a
"transparent" bidding process to the benefit of the community and
country, the statement said.
"I have to help the government and my people, so all
of us can benefit," presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay quoted the
pastor as saying.
Sierra Leone's government has attempted to crack down
on cross-border diamond trafficking to persuade foreign investors that
"blood diamonds" that fuelled its civil war are a thing of the past.
Diamond expert Paul Zimnisky told the AFP news agency
that once the gem's quality was assessed it could rank "between the 10th
and 15th largest gem-diamonds ever recovered".
The US-based analyst said such a find by a so-called
artisanal miner, the term for workers who use basic tools or their bare
hands to sift the earth, was highly unusual.
"Most recent exceptional diamond discoveries have been
made by large commercial miners that mine very large volumes of
kimberlite ore and process it with advanced equipment," Zimnisky said.
Even though diamonds can be found in about a quarter
of Sierra Leone, the country of about six million people is one of the
world's five poorest nations, according to the United Nations.
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