Sierra Leone: 709-carat diamond up for auction

Pastor in Sierra Leone finds 709-carat diamond in biggest discovery since 1971

A Christian pastor working in a Sierra Leone mine has discovered a 706-carat diamond, media reports said.

Kono was at the center of the "blood diamond" trade that financed Sierra Leone's brutal civil war between 1991 and 2002. In 1972, the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found by miners and sold for about $2.5 million.

"Receiving the diamond President Koroma thanked the chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond out of the country", the statement read.

What would you do if you were in Pastor Momoh's shoes?

The government has made moves to crack down on diamond trafficking, and seems to be trying to use this opportunity to present a better face.

Freelance or artisanal miners are common in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich areas and according to Mathew Nyaungwa from Rough and Polished diamond analysts, the discovered diamond weighing 706 carats in Konom is the 13th largest diamond ever to be found.

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The precious gem is now in Freetown's central bank vault awaiting valuation under the Kimberley Process, which certifies diamonds as being "conflict-free". The government plans to auction the diamond, and take a four per cent cut. It is still the second-largest diamond of all time and had a price tag of more than $70 million.

Sierra Leone's gross national income per capita stood at US$620 (S$870) in 2015, according to World Bank data.

The largest diamond found in a century was found in mine in Botswana a year ago.

President Koroma added "clear instruction to the Ministry of Mines that the evaluation, sale and distribution of the proceeds must be done in the most transparent manner".

The diamond discovered in Botswana was named Lesedi La Rona, meaning "Our Light" in the local Tswana language.

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