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Tanzanian Artisanal Miner Strikes Gold in Biggest Gem Find

A small-scale miner in Tanzania has earned $3.35m after selling to the state the two largest tanzanite stones ever found. The dark violet-blue gemstones, each about the size of a forearm, were discovered by Saniniu Laizer in one of the tanzanite mines in the north of the country which are surrounded by a wall to control cross-border smuggling of the gemstones. Tanzanite is a gemstone found only in a small northern region of Tanzania. The first gemstone weighed in at 9.27kg while the second weighed 5.103kg, a mines ministry spokesperson said. Laizer was pictured on Tanzanian television being presented with a large cheque after the country’s central bank bought the gemstones. President John Magufuli phoned to congratulate Laizer live on television. “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.” Tanzania last year set up trading centres around the country to allow artisanal miners to sell their gems and gold to the government. Artisanal miners are not officially employed by any mining companies and usually mine by hand.