It’s every informal diamond digger’s dream – to find a giant diamond; the rock that will banish their family’s poverty and set their family free.
For Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, this dream has just come true.
Last week, Momoh, an independent miner in Sierra Leone’s Kono district, uncovered a 709.48ct diamond, believed to be the 13th largest rough diamond ever found.
After having the stone positively identified as a diamond by a local diamond dealer, Momoh did what few others would have done – he handed the diamond over to the government.
Sierra Leone emerged from a decade-long civil war in 2002 and government officials, as is the case with many African countries, are viewed suspiciously by residents of the country. Many people, having made a discovery like Momoh, would simply have smuggled the diamond out of the country, to sell it elsewhere and avoid paying taxes.
Momoh, however, took the ethical route and the stone was presented to Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma. “I believe a diamond like this should be publicly sold in the country so that we know the value of it, what is due to the government and what is due to the people so that everyone can have their share,” Mr. Koroma said, as he attempted to allay the fears of those who feel the government will take advantage of Momoh’s goodwill.
Authorities in Sierra Leone have now announced that the diamond will be sold by international tender. Potential buyers can view the stone at the Bank of Sierra Leone for a week, starting Wednesday 29th March.
President Koroma has noted the selling process will be transparent and that the highest bidder will win the stone, subject to a reserve price. He has also stressed the importance of selling it within the country for the benefit of the nation.
Sealed offers on the diamond will be opened in front of all bidders on the 6th April. The reserve price is unknown and estimates as to what the diamond will fetch are varied, but Momoh is certain of one thing – any money he generates will go straight back to Kono, where he was born, to develop his mining business, support his wife and three children, and to the local community where so many live in desperate circumstances.