Miner is a millionaire after discovering largest tanzanite gems in the world
A humble Tanzanian miner has discovered the world’s largest cache of tanzanite — worth over $3 million.
The two midnight-blue gemstones were unearthed in the eastern African country’s north region — the only part of the world where tanzanite can be found, Sky News reports. There, gem miners operate independently and are known to work with their hands rather than large-scale excavation equipment.
The gemstones weigh 20.43 pounds (9.27 kilogram) and 11.25 pounds (5.10 kilogram), according to a Tanzanian government spokesperson. On Thursday, the Bank of Tanzania wrote the miner, Saniniu Laizer, 52, a check for $7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($3.34 million).
“Today’s event … is to recognize the two largest tanzanite gemstones in history since the beginning of mining activities in Merelani,” said the mines ministry permanent secretary Simon Msanjila, at a televised event in Tanzania’s northern Manyara region.
Laizer was shown ceremoniously handing over the tanzanite, both about as long as his forearm, and receiving a giant check in return.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli telephoned Laizer during the broadcast to congratulate the subsistence miner.
“This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich,” Magufuli told minerals minister Doto Biteko, according to Sky News.
In 2018, Magufuli had an enclosure constructed in the northern region to protect miners from cross-country smugglers, where he claimed 40% of the country’s tanzanite was being traded illegally.
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