Proceeds from massive diamond found by pastor to go to Sierra Leone’s poorest

Proceeds from the auction of a 709.41-carat diamond found by a local pastor early this year in Sierra Leone will go to fund development projects in the community where it was found, the group managing the sale said on Tuesday.

International diamond trading network Rapaport Group will auction the stone named “Peace Diamond” for free in New York in December, it said in a news conference streamed online.

The idea is to inspire others traders to benefit the countries from which the stones come.

The stone, named "Peace Diamond", is the second-largest ever found in the West African nation.

The massive rock, found in the Kono district, is considered to be one of the world’s 20 largest diamonds ever discovered, and the second-largest precious rock ever unearthed in the West African nation.

The yellowish diamond is also one of the largest found in recent years at mines in southern Africa, closely behind Lucara Diamond’s (TSX:LUC) 1,111-carat rock discovered in Botswana in 2015.

This is not the first “Peace Diamond” is put up for sale. A $7.7 million bid was turned down in by the government of Sierra Leone in May. Two months later, authorities announced they would try selling it again.

Over 50% of the sale value will be used to fund clean water, electricity, school, medical facilities, bridges and roads, none of which are currently available in the village of Koryardu, where the diamond was found, Rapaport said in a statement.

While Sierra Leone hasn’t officially revealed the diamond’s worth, Anadolu Agency reported that experts value it at over $50 million.

Between 1991 and 2002, Kono was at the centre of the “blood diamond” trade that funded the country’s brutal civil war as rebel groups exchanged gems for weapons.