Miner in Guinea digs up 182-ct. diamond

A 25-year-old miner found a 182-ct. diamond in Guinea that everyone—starting with the government of Guinea—wants a piece of, The Associated Press reports.

The stone—four times the size of the Hope diamond—was tucked away Monday deep in the vaults of Guinea’s Central Bank, the AP reports. And the miner who found it was making himself scarce.

State radio in impoverished, mineral-rich Guinea announced the find last week, the AP reports. Guinea mining industry officials confirmed Monday that the newly dug-up stone –though not flawless—was a fortune in the rough.

“It’s a quite brilliant diamond, of good enough quality despite having numerous veins. One thing is certain – it’s worth millions of dollars,” a top official with the Aredor mining company, Guinea’s biggest diamond operation, told the AP.

The Guinea gem is four inches by 1.2 inches high—roughly the size and shape of an average computer mouse.

The largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan at 3,106 cts. in the rough.

Freelance discoveries of big diamonds in west and central Africa typically touch off fierce, fast-buck feeding frenzies, pitting the finders and first-round buyers against would-be moneymakers higher up the food chain, the AP reports. Finders, terrified, have been known to flee into the bush rather than dare bring their find to market.

Industry officials and diplomats in Guinea on Monday would discuss the find here only on condition of anonymity.

The 25-year-old, who was not identified, struck his shovel on the stone at a dig in southeast Guinea, bordering Ivory Coast and Liberia, the AP reports. Authorities gave few other details of the diamond’s first hours and days in the light. It was clear, however, that the rock’s time with its discoverer was brief.

By Monday, the gem was in the capital, Conakry, behind steel doors at the guarded Central Bank.

The young miner had no choice, a Western diplomat told the AP. He might have been killed if he hadn’t turned it over to the authorities.

The 182-ct. stone came from a site owned by the government, and leased to miners.

Miners are believed to slip many smaller finds into their pockets, taking the stones out for smuggling and avoiding the government and any cuts it would take.

Especially since it was found on government land, the gem’s discoverer may have believed bypassing Guinea’s officials too risky in this case, experts reportedly said.

Authorities were to inspect the stone later this week and offer an official estimate, the AP reports. The finder would likely receive an undetermined percentage of that, industry officials reportedly said.