By Alpha Kamara
One of the world’s largest uncut diamonds has been found by a Christian pastor in eastern Sierra Leone, an official said Thursday.
The 706-carat diamond is believed to be one of the 20 largest ever found and could be worth up to $5 million.
The rough gem was presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday evening before being locked in the central bank’s vault in capital Freetown.
Pastor Emmanuel Momoh was alluvial mining in Kono district when he discovered the diamond -- the biggest found in the country since the discovery of the 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone in 1972.
Koroma thanked the local chief and his people for “not smuggling the diamond out of the country”, the presidency said in a statement. He pledged the owners should get “what is due to them” and said the find should benefit the whole country.
Mines and Mineral Resources Minister Minkailu Mansaray described the diamond as a gift to the country said the proceeds would be used for the good of the people.
Between 1991 and 2002, Kono was at the center of the “blood diamond” trade that funded the country’s brutal civil war.