African Miner Becomes Instant Millionaire After Finding Biggest Tanzanite Stones Ever

A small-scale Tanzanian miner has become an overnight millionaire after finding the two largest tanzanite gemstones ever discovered. Not bad for a day’s work, eh?

Saniniu Laizer was handed cheque for a whopping 7.74bn shillings (£2.7m) by the Tanzian government in exchange for his find.

The two gems, which are a dark violet-blue colour, weighed 9.2kg and 5.8kg, toppling the previous heaviest stone – which weighed 3.3kg.

Tanzanite, as the name suggests, is only found in Tanzania, where it is used to make ornaments and other decorative items. It is also one of the rarest stones on Earth – its value is driven by its rarity and the better the colour or clarity, the more it’s worth.

Speaking to the BBC, Laizer, 52, said: “There will be a big party tomorrow.”

He went on to say: “I want to build a shopping mall and a school. I want to build this school near my home. There are many poor people around here who can’t afford to take their children to school.”

“I am not educated but I like things run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally.”

Tweeting about his good fortune, he said: “Focus, determination, hard working and consistency is my big secret, I thank everyone.”

He told the news outlet the money won’t change his lifestyle.

Simon Msanjila, mines ministry permanent secretary, said at a specially held ceremony: “Today’s event… is to recognise the two largest tanzanite gemstones in history since the beginning of mining activities in Mirerani.”

Laizer’s find was even recognised by President John Magufuli who called him to congratulate him on live TV.

Magufuli told minerals minister Doto Biteko: “This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich.”

Lazier found the stones in a tanzanite mine in the north of the country, which are surrounded by walls to help combat cross-border smuggling of the valuable stones – until the walls were erected in 2018, Magufuli claimed that up to 40 percent of the tanzanite found was being lost.

Last year, the country set up trading centres to allow small-scale miners, such as Lazier, to sell what they find to the government.

Small-scale miners are not officially employed by mining companies and usually do their mining by hand.

Not bad for a day’s work.