Tanzanian Miner Becomes Millionaire Overnight After Discovering Rare Gemstones Worth £2.4 Million
After discovering two huge gemstones worth £2.4million in Tanzania, a father of 30, a herdsman and a miner has become a millionaire overnight.
The government of Tanzania handed Saniniu Laizer a cheque for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings equivalent to £2.4million for the two dark violet-blue stones, each about the size of a forearm, during a trading event in the northern region of Manyara in Tanzania.
The tanzanite gemstones were found in one of the tanzanite mines in the north of the country which are surrounded by a wall to control cross-border smuggling of the rare stone.
'There will be a big party tomorrow,' Laizer, who is a husband to 4 women told the BBC.
The 52-year-old said that he would slaughter a cow to celebrate his good fortune. He also promised to use some of his earnings from the stones to build a school and a shopping mall in his community, adding that many locals can't afford to pay for their children's education. He, however, insisted that his lifestyle would not change and that he would continue to look after his herd of 2,000 cows.
The rare Tanzanite gemstone
The ultra-rare gemstone Tanzanite is only found in northern Tanzania. It is possibly the rarest mineral in the world. It can be found in an area just 2.5 miles wide and 1.2 miles long at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The stones are priced depending on the rarity of their colour and clarity. Tanzanite slabs are often exported to India to be polished and transformed into decorative objects. Local geologists predict its supply could be depleted within 20 years, the BBC reported. The gemstone was named after its country of origin by luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.
The first gemstone weighed 20 pounds while the second weighed 11 pounds, a mines ministry spokesperson said. Before Laizer dug out the chunks last week, the largest Tanzanite stone recorded was 7 pounds.
Laizer was pictured on a Tanzanian television network being presented with a large cheque after the Bank of Tanzania bought the gemstones in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. President John Magufuli phoned to congratulate Laizer live on television. 'This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich,' Magufuli told minerals minister Doto Biteko.
Tanzania last year set up trading centres around the country to allow artisanal miners to sell their gems and gold to the government. Artisanal miners are not officially employed by any mining companies and usually mine by hand. Magufuli inaugurated the wall around tanzanite mining concessions in northern Tanzania in April 2018, in an attempt to control illegal mining and trading activities. At the time the president said 40% of tanzanite produced there could not be found and accounted.