A small-scale miner in Tanzania, Saniniu Laizer, has become an overnight millionaire after selling two huge US$3.4 MILLION Tanzanite stones, which together weigh 15kg (33lb).
The two gemstones – one weighing 9.2kg and the other 5.8kg – are the largest Tanzanite rocks ever mined, according to the mining ministry.
According to some sources, the largest rough Tanzanite stone on record weighed 3.38kg, and was mined by TanzaniteOne in 2005.
It is not known when Mr Laizer, from Manyara in northern Tanzania, unearthed the gems, but on Wednesday the 52 year old sold them to the government, through the mining ministry, for a total of 7.8bn Tanzanian shillings ($3.4m; £2.7m).
During a ceremony in Manyara, President John Magufuli phoned in to congratulate Mr Laizer.
“This is the benefit of small-scale miners and this proves that Tanzania is rich,” the president said.
Mr Magufuli came to power with a promise to safeguard the nation’s interests in the mining sector and increase government revenue from the sector.
In 2017, he ordered the military to build a 24km (15-mile) perimeter wall around the site believed to be the world’s only source of Tanzanite – a 4km section at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro.
A year later, the government reported an increase in revenue in the mining sector and attributed the rise to the construction of the wall, saying it had curbed smuggling.
Tanzanite is one of the rarest gemstones on earth and, according to the University of Pennsylvania, one local geologist estimates its supply may be entirely depleted within the next 20 years.
What did the new millionaire say?
Mr Laizer, 52, who has four wives and 30 children, said he would slaughter one of his cows to celebrate.
He also plans to invest in his community in Simanjiro district in Manyara.
“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.”
He said the windfall would not change his lifestyle, and that he planned to continue looking after his 2,000 cows. He said he did not need to take any extra precautions despite his new-found riches.