A small-scale Tanzanian miner became a millionaire overnight after he sold two rough tanzanite gemstones that are said to be the largest ever found in the country.
Saniniu Laizer, 52, announced that he would kill one of his 2,000 cows and build a school to celebrate. The two dark violet blue gemstones weighed a total of 33 pounds. He sold them for 7.74 trillion Tanzanian shillings ($ 3.4 million US dollars).
“There will be a big party tomorrow,” Laizer, from the Manyara region, told the BBC. “I want to build a shopping center and a school. I want to build this school near my house. There are many poor people around here who cannot afford to take their children to school. “
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“I don’t have an education, but I like things to work professionally,” he added. “So I would like my children to run the business professionally.”
The BBC reported that he has more than 30 children.
Laizer mined the two stones weighing 20.3 and 12.7 pounds last week before selling them on Wednesday during a trade event. The previous record for a Tanzanite gemstone was about 7.3 pounds, according to the news organization.
Tanzanite is said to be a gemstone found only in the northern region of the country. It is reportedly used for making ornaments, with its rarity defined by how clear or well defined color is, the BBC reported.
“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 northern region from Manyara in Tanzania, according to The Guardian.
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Tanzanian President John Magufuli even called to congratulate Laizer on live television.
“This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich,” said Magufuli.
Magufuli had ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site in 2017, believed to be the world’s only source of Tanzanite, and its supply is estimated to be depleted in 20 years, a geologist told the BBC.
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Last year, Tanzania established shopping malls to allow artisanal miners, such as Laizer, to sell their gems and gold to the government. Many are reported to mine by hand without any affiliation with mining companies.