|A 706-carat diamond is pictured on March 16, 2017 in Freetown, Sierra Leone © Saidu Bah / AFP|
The large stone was discovered by Emmanuel Momoh, one of thousands who work in the informal mining sector dominating the diamond-rich Kono region, the government said.
The government plans to hold a transparent auction for the gem in a country once tainted by so-called blood diamonds.
“A 706-carat diamond was presented to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday evening,” the president’s office said on 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.
The sale of blood diamonds helped finance civil wars across Africa in the 1990s, and often funded military dictatorships in a continent that the London Diamond Bourse estimates provides 65% of the world’s diamonds.
Sierra Leonean rebels allowed traders to exploit diamond mines and ship the gems abroad via Liberia.
In one of the most notorious cases, Charles Taylor, the former Liberian warlord, was found guilty of supporting the rebels in exchange for diamonds mined by slave labour.
The district where the 706-carat diamond was discovered is where the US-Belgian businessman Michel Desaedeleer, accused of enslavement and diamond trafficking during Sierra Leone’s civil war, is alleged to have committed his crimes. He died in jail in September before he could stand trial.
The death toll from the civil war is estimated at 120,000, making it one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts in recent history.
The government has attempted to crack down on cross-border diamond trafficking to persuade foreign investors that blood diamonds are a thing of the past.
|Christian pastor Emmanuel Momoh has made the discovery of a lifetime, uncovering one of the world’s largest uncut diamonds in Sierra Leone’s Kono district.|
The diamond presented on Thursday, once confirmed by experts, is expected to rank among the largest. 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. It weighed 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.
The above post is reprinted from The Guardian