The West

Cyril D Silva. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.
Cyril D'Silva. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.

Perth businessman Cyril D'Silva has a rare insight into diamonds, danger and doing business in Sierra Leone.

He has just taken delivery of the first cut diamonds produced by Golden Saint Resources from its exploration licences in the African nation, which is reeling from an outbreak of the deadly ebola virus.

The diamonds - 76 carats worth $300,000 - represent a small but fast start for the company, which listed on London's AIM market in July.

The Golden Saint executive chairman admitted the company's Perth head office in the old Solid Gold showrooms in the Hay Street Mall were a world away from Sierra Leone, where many in the diamond trade are surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.

"We don't have bodyguards, we get along well with locals," Mr D'Silva said.

The locals include Attorney-General Frank Kargbo, a big shareholder in Golden Saint.

Golden Saint is employing about 200 people in its alluvial operations whereas most companies go straight into drilling operation with a small workforce of mostly foreign workers.

"We decided we wanted to go into alluvial production and get revenue from there," Mr D'Silva said. "With this revenue we intend to proceed to drilling. We are trying to walk before we run."

The West Australian

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