Sierra Leone pastor finds huge 706-carat diamond

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, who also works as a miner, discovered the 706-carat diamond in Kono district, the government said in a statement.

The precious stone was presented to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday evening.

Pastor Momah is one of thousands who seek riches and fortunes in the informal mining sector that dominates the Kono region of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is one of Africa's largest diamond exporters.

Momoh's diamond is believed to be the largest diamond found in Sierra Leone since the 968-carat "Star of Sierra Leone", which sold for $2.5 million in 1972.

Spokesman Bayraytay said the diamond has not yet been valued and has been placed in the Bank of Sierra Leone. He added that the pastor and his community will get their fair compensation.

The Pastor chose to turn the diamond in because the local government has been helping with road construction and improvements to electrical issues plaguing the region with almost 30 years of blackouts.

Analyst Mathew Nyaungwa old the BBC that it is the 13th largest diamond ever found, though it is unclear how much it is worth before it is cut.

Historically, Sierra Leone has had a controversial role in the diamond industry. It is still the second-largest diamond of all time and had a price tag of more than $70 million. He has led an anti-corruption campaign, opened the country to foreign investors, and has worked to rebuild the nation's infrastructure following the civil war that ended in 2002.

Last May, diamond-mining firm Lucara sold a 813-carat stone for $63m (£51m) at a closed auction in London.

Sierra Leone's gross national income per capita stood at US$620 (S$870) in 2015, according to World Bank data.

  • Joey Payne