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Pastor Emmanuel Momoh made one of the biggest discoveries this week - a 709-carat diamond worth millions of dollars. In 1972, a 968.9-carat diamond was found in Sierra Leone that eventually sold for $US2.5 million ($3.2 million).

The massive diamond was extracted by pastor Emmanuel Momoh, a self-employed and registered artisanal miner, as he worked in the mines in the diamond-rich Kono region.

"Receiving the diamond President Koroma thanked the chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond out of the country", the statement read.

The AIM-listed company has invested £5.5m in the development of its Tongo kimberlite diamond project and the proposed tribute mining agreement with Octea Mining of the adjacent Tonguma project.

Once the diamond is officially evaluated under the Kimberley Process, which ensures diamonds are "conflict-free", it will be sold in Sierra Leone through a transparent bidding process.

The world's largest diamond on record was found in Brazil in 1893. However, a diamond-mining firm sold an 813-carat stone for $63m at an auction in London in May previous year.

Sierra Leonean rebels allowed traders to exploit diamond mines and ship the gems overseas via Liberia during the 1991-2002 civil conflict. Diamond expert Paul Zimnisky told the AFP news agency that it could possibly rank "between the 10th and 15th largest dem-diamonds ever recovered".

The gem may not be the largest ever found, but it's pretty close. Sierra Leone's gross national income per capita stood at $620 in 2015, according to World Bank data. This rock, found in South Africa in 1905, was eventually cut into several large gems, two of which appear in the British Crown Jewels.