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Miner becomes a millionaire after finding biggest Tanzanite stones in history

Tanzanian miner

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of for ordinary hard-working people everywhere.

One day you’re toiling away under the hot African sun, wondering how you’re going to feed a large family. Overnight you’re a multimillionaire with plans to ensure free schooling in your community and to build a shopping mall in your home town.

That’s the remarkable story of Saniniu Laizer, a 52-year-old small-scale independent miner from Tanzania.

biggest Tanzanite stones

This week the Tanzanian government paid him the equivalent of around R57-million (US$3.4m) for finding the biggest Tanzanite stones in history. The stones weigh in collectively at 15kg, notably bigger than the previous record find, which weighed only 3.3kg.

Laizer, who has four wives and 30 children, sold them to the government on Wednesday 24 June during a trading event in the northern region of Manyara. The government said via Twitter that it plans to put the stones in a museum.

“I thank God for this achievement because it’s the first time to get this size. When I found these, I notified government officials who valuated the stones and today they called me for payment, Laizer said.

Sininiu Laizer

At a function celebrating the find and to hand over the money, Tanzania’s mining minister Dotto Biteko said the country was moving from a situation where small miners were smuggling Tanzanite, to one where they were now following the procedures and paying government taxes and royalties.

The smuggling of Tanzanite, one of the rarest gemstones on Earth and likely to be entirely depleted within the next 20 years, has been an ongoing problem for the government. In 2017 a 24km perimeter wall was built around the Merelani mining site in Manyara, believed to be the world’s only source of Tanzanite.