PHOTO: Sierra Leonean Pastor Finds 706-Carat Diamond Worth Over £50million; Turned It Over To The Government

You’re looking at £50million
A pastor working in the mines of Sierra Leone has discovered the largest uncut diamond found in more than four decades in the West African country and has turned it over to the government.

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh found the 706-carat alluvial diamond in Yakadu village in Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich east, an informal mining sector, and it was presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday, said presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay.

It is the second largest diamond found in Sierra Leone.

In 1972, the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found by miners in the same area and sold for about 2.5 million dollars (£2 million).

Although Mr Momoh was entitled to the proceeds of the diamonds, with the government entitled to take just 4%, he told the Associated Press that he turned in the diamond because he was touched by the development being undertaken in Kono District, where the gem was found.

He cited road construction and improvements to electricity after almost 30 years of blackouts and he hopes the proceeds from the diamond will continue to boost development. ‘I believe the government can do more, especially at a time when the country is undergoing some economic challenges,’ he said.

Sierra Leone’s diamond wealth fuelled a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. Despite its mineral wealth, the country remains one of the poorest in the world.
Diamond prospectors filter earth from a river in the diamond-rich Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone. Small-scale artisanal (freelance) mining has sustained this area since diamonds were discovered in 1930, and it was here that the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found in 1972 – the largest alluvial diamond ever found. Koidu also suffered some of the worst ravages of Sierra Leone’s war in the nineties as rebels forced citizens to mine at gunpoint. But surface diamonds are near-depleted and only capital-intensive mining can reach the gems (Picture: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty)
The president expressed appreciation that there was no attempt to smuggle the gem out of the country, and encouraged others to emulate the pastor’s example. He promised the diamond would be sold to the highest bidder and whatever is due to the owner and government would be distributed accordingly.

Mr Bayraytay said the diamond has not yet been valued and has been placed in the Bank of Sierra Leone in the capital Freetown.

The president has given ‘clear instruction to the ministry of mines that the evaluation, sale and distribution of the proceeds must be done in the most transparent manner’, he said. A single 25-carat portion is likely to sell for £1.78 million to £2.91 million or $71,000 to £116,000 for a single carat, US-based diamond expert Paul Zimnisky said.

A 1,111-carat diamond was discovered at a mine in Botswana in 2015, the biggest find for more than a century.

That gem is second in size only to the Cullinan diamond which was unearthed in South Africa in 1905, at 3,106 carats uncut, according to the Cape Town Diamond Museum.

The Cullinan was cut into several gems, including two set into the sceptre and crown of the British Crown Jewels.

 - Metro, UK

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