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Massive diamond found by Sierra Leone pastor now for sale in Antwerp

Emmanuel Momoh, a 39-year-old pastor who is also one of hundreds of so-called artisanal miners in Kono, Sierra Leone’s key mining district, unearthed this diamond in March and handed it over to the government. (Image courtesy of National Minerals Agency of Sierra Leone.)

The government of Sierra Leone confirmed Wednesday that a 709.41-carat diamond found by a local pastor early this year is currently in Antwerp, Belgium, for auction and sale.

The massive rock, located in the Kono district, is considered to be one of the world’s 20 largest rough precious rocks ever found.

It’s the second-largest diamond ever found in the West African nation.

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh’s finding will be remembered as it’s the second-largest diamond 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.

Momoh is now part of the sales team who is meeting sales agents, auction houses and potential buyers this week in Belgium.

“We can confirm that the 709.41 carat-diamond found by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh goes on auction in Antwerp Belgium today. The process will be opened and will be reported to the public,” the agency wrote on its Facebook page.

The highest bid of $7.7 million was turned down in Freetown in May. Two months later, the government announced it would sell it either in Antwerp or Tel Aviv.

While Sierra Leone hasn’t officially revealed the diamond’s worth, Anadolu Agency reports 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.