By Kemo Cham
The Sierra Leone government has announced the discovery of one of the biggest diamonds ever.
The 709-carat gemstone was found in the eastern Kono District by a Christian pastor, Emmanuel Momoh and is the biggest in Sierra Leone since the Star of Sierra Leone in 1972.
Pastor Momoh and the Paramount Chief of Tankoro Chiefdom, where the diamond was found on Wednesday, presented the gem to President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House on Wednesday. It was subsequently locked in a vault at the central bank.
Paramount Chief Paul Saquee told Politico that it was found in Koyadu village.
In a press release, President Koroma has assured transparency in the sale of the diamond which he said will be auctioned. It has not yet been valued by the Precious Minerals Trading.
"It will be a terrible thing if anyone is dissatisfied,” the President said, adding: “It is our responsibility as a government for it to go through the right process for everyone to know the value and how much it is bought. If people want to buy it they can come and buy it.”
“Under my presidency the process will be transparent and I am sure everyone will be satisfied,” he said, adding that the diamond would go through the “right process" by the Ministry of Mines and that the government would determine how it is sold.
The regulations state that the government must be involved in the sale of all diamonds, something that has been shrouded in controversy in the past with owners often left dissatisfied.
Two of the world's largest diamonds were found in the same Kono district including
The Star of Sierra Leone which still ranks as the 4th biggest in terms of gem quality, and the largest alluvial diamond ever.
Koidu is also home to the second largest diamond found in the country. The so-called Woyie River Diamond was discovered in 1945 and weighed 770 carats. It currently ranks 6th in the world.
In 2013 a 153-carat diamond was valued at US$ 6 million. Rather controversially the government hurriedly asked that taxes be reduced on all precious stones from 15% to 3%.
After dominating the mining sector until 2011, when the focus redirected to iron ore, there were concerns that the previous stones may have reached their end in the country.
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