Sierra Leone Pastor Finds Giant 706-Carat Diamond, 'Surrenders' Gem to Government
A fortunate pastor unearthed one of the largest uncut diamonds found in Sierra Leone.
Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, an independent miner, found the 706-carat alluvial diamond in a mining sector at eastern Kono. According to Forbes, the giant diamond is the second largest ever discovered in Sierra Leone.
The largest diamond (968.9 carats) in the area was found in 1972 and sold for $2.5 million. Meanwhile, it could rank between 10th and 15th largest diamond ever recorded.
Being an independent miner (artisanal miner, as they are sometimes called), such discovery is rare. Given that these kinds of miner only uses their bare hands and basic tools when digging for stones.
Despite the rarity, Momoh surrendered the diamond to President Ernest Bai Koroma, Associated Press reported. Momoh told the news agency that he gave it as a form of appreciation for all the development projects being implemented by the government in their area.
"I believe the government can do more, especially at a time when the country is undergoing some economic challenges," he said.
IFL Science noted that Sierra Leone is infamous for being one of the seven African countries whose "blood" diamonds prompted a decade-long civil war.
Blood diamonds are diamonds used by rebels to fund wars against the governments. Reports from Reuters said Koroma thanked Momoh for not smuggling the precious diamond out of Sierra Leone.
"He [Koroma] underscored the importance of selling such a diamond here as it will clearly give the owners what is due them and benefit the country as a whole," the statement said.
The 706-carat diamond, which is yet to be valued, will be sold to the highest bidder, and the money will reportedly be used to fund more government projects. It is likely to be sold outside the country because in 2003, the United Nations lifted their ban on the region's diamond exports.