A spokesman for the NMA (National Minerals Agency) has confirmed that a high quality 160 carats diamond has been found in Peyima, Kamara Chiefdom in the Kono district. The 160 carats diamond is the finest and most valuable so far found in the country this year, according to the NMA spokesman.
However, controversy surrounds the true ownership of the biggest diamond ever found in Kono this year. Paramount Chief Melvin Ngekia of Kamara Chiefdom is claiming to government officials that he was the one supporting the artisanal miners (Sansan boys) who found the diamond. Controversial Lebanese businessman, Hilal Touffic is also claiming that he was the one supporting Chief Ngekia’s mining exploits in Kono.
Meanwhile, the controversial diamond has been bought by renowned diamond exporter, Hisham Mackie for an undisclosed sum of money. Industry experts say the rare diamond is worth well over US$ 8M.
Hisham Mackie recently bought a high quality 125 carats octahedral diamond from Kono district for US$ 818,000.00. He is the single-highest diamond exporter in Sierra Leone.
Although NMA officials are refusing to disclose the actual amount Mr. Mackie paid for the 160 carats diamond, independent sources say he paid less than a million United States dollars.
A spokesman for NMA last night assured the Global Times that all legal procedures will be followed in exporting the diamond. He, however, refused to comment on allegations that a fair price was not paid for the find.
The government is to receive an export tariff of fifteen percent, according to the NMA spokesman. The diamond is awaiting valuation and export, the NMA spokesman confirmed.