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Peace Diamond Promise...

Previously we reported that the proceeds from the sale of the 706-carat diamond found in Sierra Leone's Kono district found by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh's team was going toward beneficiation of that district. Now it appears that he did not receive the entire percent of projected proceeds from the sale of the 'Peace Diamond', nor has the district and the miners.

The government of Sierra Leone and the National Minerals Agency which oversaw the auctioning of the diamond in New York for $6.5 million claims that the Pastor violated the Mines and Minerals Act by discovering the stone while the mining license application for his company was still being processed. According to reports, the National Minerals Agency, which oversaw the sale of the 706-carat diamond at an auction in New York for $6.5 million, said Momoh could not get the entire sum because he violated the Mines and Minerals Act.

“So technically, he did not own the diamond. The diamond belongs to the government of Sierra Leone,” the Director-General of the Minerals Regulatory Agency, Sahr Wonday, is quoted as saying. "The pastor will, however, receive 40 per cent of the proceeds and the rest would go to the government, whose officials have committed to administering them in accordance with the law."

Before this new development, Momoh had promised to use half of the proceeds to fund infrastructure projects to benefit the community of the small village where the large diamond crystal was discovered.

In previous statements, the Ernest Bai Koroma government said it was going to receive about $3.9 million of the final selling price as taxes, while another $980,454 would enter a community development fund, and about $1 million would go to local diggers in Kono. Momoh paid his miners their share from his reduced payout.

The wealth of resources such as diamonds and gold truly are a curse for this nation. You cannot eat or drink gold or diamonds and they will not chill you in the summer or pave a road. They are a vehicle for exploitation and corruption, the affects which ultimately destroy communities and lives. Why is it that diamonds cannot be their best friend and help them? Who received the biggest piece of the 'Peace Diamond'? It appears it wasn't the miners who actually did the right thing.

In 2019, two years after the sale, Martin Rappaport who brokered the diamond sale pro bono, led a group of International diamantaires to visit the region and interact with the miner's group and the Sierra Leon National Minerals Agency representatives. It took the government a year to act on their promise to begin work on the area schools and infrastructure. They began some work in 2018 but an update on the progress is not available.

Has anything changed for alluvial miners in the area? From all that I researched and the articles I could find, it really hasn't. Outside companies from foreign countries are still damaging the fields and lands held by the Sierra Leon people without a fair reimbursement. Clean water and electricity are still an issue with little being done to correct or punish the companies doing the harm and pollution.

It is a fact that most miners have no idea what the diamonds they mine are worth. Not at the wholesale level and certainly not at the sometimes 'mind-blowing' pricing at the retail level. Local diamond buyers and brokers near the mines collude to keep prices they pay alluvial miners at a minimum. Martin Rapaport wants the world to see diamonds as a positive emotional purchase, but how can you feel good when you know they are the source of such constant exploitation?

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