Tanzania miner pockets $3.4m for two gemstones

A small-scale miner in Tanzania has become an overnight millionaire after unearthing two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found.

Tanzania’s government bought the book-sized stones weighing 20 pounds (9 kg) and 11 pounds (5 kg) from miner Saniniu Laizer for $3.4 million.

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Minerals Minister Doto Biteko said on state television Wednesday the government is buying the rare minerals for preservation.

“We’re signing agreements today in public to facilitate the cash transfer … and the government recognizes Laizer is a new billionaire,” he said, speaking in terms of the local currency.

Laizer said in a televised interview he plans to open a shopping mall and a school for his community. “The money that I have received today, I will allocate it to more development activities,” he said.

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Tanzania is a rich country, President John Magufuli said when congratulating him. Tanzanite is found only in the East African country.

Mining activities accounted for 17% of the East African country’s GDP in 2019. Magufuli’s administration has imposed reforms that seek to curb smuggling and increase revenue collection in the sector.

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