Sierra Leone pastor unearths massive 706-carat diamond

A pastor working in the mines of eastern Sierra Leone has unearthed a 706-carat diamond, the government said Thursday, pledging to hold a transparent auction for the gem in a nation once tainted by “blood diamonds”.
The huge diamond was discovered by pastor Emmanuel Momoh, one of thousands who seek their fortunes in the informal mining sector that dominates the diamond-rich Kono region, the government said in a statement.
A 706-carat diamond was presented to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday evening,” the president’s office said Thursday.
“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 gem.
It will be sold in Sierra Leone with a “transparent” bidding process to the benefit of the community and country, the statement said.
The diamond presented Thursday, once confirmed by experts, is expected to rank among the largest ever found.
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. — AFP