- A small-scale miner in Tanzania became an overnight millionaire after digging up two massive chunks of one of the world's rarest gemstones
- Saniniu Laizer earned over GHC19 million ($3.4m) by selling the two Tanzanite stones which weighed 9.2kg and 5.8kg to the government
- Until Laizer found these stones; the largest Tanzanite gem ever found was 3.3kg
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A small-scale miner in Tanzania became an overnight millionaire after selling two rough Tanzanite stones said to be the biggest ever found in the country.
Saniniu Laizer earned GHC19 million ($3.4m) from the country's mining ministry for the gemstones, which weighed 9.2kg and 5.8kg.
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According to a report by the BBC, Laizer mined the stones last week, but he sold them on Wednesday, June 24, during a trading event in the northern region of Manyara.
"Focus, determination, hard working and consistency is my big secret, I thank everyone," he tweeted.
The 52-year-old husband of four wives and father of more than 30 children said he would slaughter one of his cows to celebrate.
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He plans on using his newfound wealth to build a school and a shopping mall in his community in Simanjiro district in Manyara.
"I want to build a shopping mall and a school... near my home. There are many poor people around here who can't afford to take their children to school," he said.
"I am not educated but I like things to run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally," he added.
President John Magufuli who in 2015 promised to safeguard the nation's interest in the mining sector and increase the revenue from it called in to congratulate Laizer on the find.
"This is the benefit of small-scale miners and this proves that Tanzania is rich," the president said.
In 2017, he ordered the military to build a 24km perimeter wall around the site believed to be the world’s only source of Tanzanite, a 4km section at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro.
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A year later, the Tanzanian mining sector recorded an increase in revenue.
This was attributed to the construction of the wall explaining that it curbed smuggling.
Tanzanite is only found in northern Tanzania and is used to make ornaments. It is one of the rarest gemstones on Earth.
However, one local geologist estimated its supply may be entirely depleted within the next 20 years.
The precious stone's appeal lies in its variety of hues, including green, red, purple and blue while its value is determined by rarity - the finer the colour or clarity, the higher the price.
Until now the largest Tanzanite rock to be mined weighed 3.3kg.
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