Huge diamond discovered in Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone government has announced the discovery of the largest diamond in the country in 46 years.
The precious stone, one of the world's largest, is said to weigh 706 carats.
It is ranked the third largest diamond ever found in the West African country.
It was discovered in Koidu town in the eastern Kono District.
Kono is a diamond-rich district where the precious stones were first discovered in the 1930s.
In 1972, the largest gemstone, dubbed 'The Star of Sierra Leone' and weighing 969 carats was unearthed there.
The latest discovery was made by a Christian pastor who is also an artisanal miner.
The local chief headed a delegation to the capital Freetown where it was handed over to the government. It is now locked up in the central bank.
President Ernest Bai Koroma assured the citizens of fair play in the processing and sale of the stone. He stressed that it would be sold in the country and in a transparent manner.
In the past, such transactions have been shrouded in controversies, with finders and communities in the diamond-rich areas failing to benefit. This has caused many miners to smuggle their finds out of the country.
“Under my presidency the process will be transparent and I am sure everyone will be satisfied,” he said.
“It is our responsibility as a government to ensure it goes through the right process for everyone to know the value and how much it will sell."
Sierra Leone is one of Africa's largest diamond exporters. Others are South Africa, DR Congo, and Botswana.
Two of the world's 10 largest diamonds were found in Koidu, the capital of Kono District -- the Star of Sierra Leone in 1972 and the 770-carat Woiye River diamond in 1945.
The 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone was sold in 1974 for $2.5 million.
In 2013, a 153-carat diamond, discovered in the country, was valued at $6m.
The sale of diamonds partly fuelled the 1991-2002 civil war when rebels exchanged the precious stones for weapons.