By S. U. Thoronka…………………………….
Six bid documents in respect of the 709.41 uncut gem diamond put on sale through international tender few months ago, were opened yesterday at a well-attended opening ceremony at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex Hall, Kingtom.
Unfortunately, none of the bidders marched the government’s undisclosed reserve price for the uncut gem diamond.
The bidders were HM Diamonds (US$5,020,000), Raydian BVBA (US$7,777, 777), Safdico International Limited (US$5,136,360), Diamond Creation (US$2,000,000) Fatmeh Barrie who was absent and Ofek Diamonds (US$3,736,000).
The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Abdul Egnosi Koroma, in his opening statement, acknowledged the fact that Sierra Leone has a long history of mining, dating back to the 1930s and that since then, thousands of diamonds of various sizes, shapes and colors have been found and exported out of the country.
The Minister noted that this is the first time in the history of the country that a diamond of this size was put on international tender inside Sierra Leone. He therefore entreated all present to congratulate themselves for being part of the history making.
Mr. Koroma described the event as a manifestation of Government’s commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s mineral wealth.
The Minister gave a brief background of the discovery of the 709.41 carats diamond which was presented to State House by the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray.
The original weight of the uncut gem diamond was 709.48 carats but that after some particles were removed from the diamond in hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, the weight reduced to 709.41 carats.
The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Abdul Egnosi Koroma noted the many mysterious stories surrounding previous diamonds or alleged diamonds of this magnitude. He said His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma gave instructions for the diamond to be sold inside Sierra Leone through international tender, whereby interested parties from all over the world would have the opportunity to participate in the bidding process.
After failing to march the reserve price, the government of Sierra Leone has decided to sell the diamond at the international market preferably in Antwerp, Belgium or in Tel Aviv, Israel through international tender, according to the Director General of NMA, Sahr Wonday.