Sierra Leone pastor finds huge diamond in Kono

A Christian pastor has discovered one of the world’s largest uncut diamonds in Sierra Leone’s Kono district.

The diamond, weighing 709 carats, is now locked up in Sierra Leone’s central bank in Freetown. It is one of the 20 largest diamonds ever found.

Freelance, or artisanal, miners are common in Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich areas, reports the BBC’s Umaru Fofana.

But there are questions over whether the community will benefit from the gem stone, he adds.

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh’s discovery, which has not yet been valued, is the biggest diamond to be found in Sierra Leone since 1972, when the 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone was dug up.

It was first taken to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday evening before being locked up.

The president “thanked the [local] chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond out of the country”, a statement from the presidency says.

Mr Koroma said that the owners should get “what is due to them” and it should “benefit the country as a whole”, it adds.

The diamond is said to have a blemish inside that may diminish its value, our correspondent says.

Sierra Leone is well known for its diamond industry but it has had a chequered history.

Diamond sales partly fuelled the country’s decade-long civil war when rebel groups exchanged them for weapons.
This aspect of the conflict gained global exposure in the Hollywood film Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Djimon Hounsou.

There has been a spate of large diamond finds in recent years at mines in southern Africa, including a 1,109 carat diamond in Botswana in 2015.

Source: BBC