A Tanzanian subsistence miner won the jackpot on Wednesday after the government issued him a check for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($ 3.35 million) for the two largest Tanzanite gemstones ever found.
The two dark violet blue gemstones, each the size of a forearm, were discovered by Saniniu Laizer in one of the Tanzanian mines in the north of the country that are surrounded by a wall to control the cross-border smuggling of gemstones .
The first gemstone weighed 9.27 kg, while the second weighed 5,103 kg, said a ministry of mines spokesman.
Tanzanite is a gemstone found only in a small region in the north of the East African nation.
“Today’s event … is to recognize the two largest Tanzanite gemstones in history since the start of mining activities in Mirerani,” said Simon Msanjila, permanent secretary of the ministry of mines, at a ceremony in the district of Simanjiro in the northern Manyara region of Tanzania.
Laizer was photographed on Tanzanian television with a large check after the Bank of Tanzania purchased the gemstones. President John Magufuli telephoned to congratulate Laizer live on television.
“This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich,” Magufuli told mineral minister Doto Biteko.
Tanzania last year established shopping malls across the country to allow artisanal miners to sell their gems and gold to the government. Artisanal miners are not officially employed by any mining company and generally mine by hand.
Magufuli inaugurated the wall around Tanzanian mining concessions in northern Tanzania in April 2018, in an attempt to control illegal mining and trade activities. At that time he said that 40% of the tanzanite produced there was being lost.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated channel.)
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