Million Plus: Tanzanian Miner Earns $2 Million For Another Gemstone

by Duke Magazine

Saniniu Laizer, a Tanzanian small scale miner who became a slum dog millionaire after digging up huge Tanzanite stones, which is one of the world’s rarest gemstones and earned $3.4 million, has found and sold another gem worth $2 million.

Laizer’s third discovery weighed 6.3kg (14lb). Used to make ornaments, Tanzanite is only found in northern Tanzania. Its value is reportedly determined by rarity, i.e, the finer the color or clarity, the higher the price.

Even though Tanzanite stones are one of the rarest gemstones on earth, a local geologist estimates its availability and supply may be entirely depleted within the next 20 years.

Laizer’s first discovery is the largest ever in Tanzania’s history. When he sold the pair of violet-blue gemstones with a combined weight of 33lb to the country’s ministry of mining in June, he said he will throw a big party.

Image credit: TBC1

The polygamist and father of 30 children is definitely not partying with all his millions. He has plans to invest in his community in Simanjiro district in northern Manyara region.

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

After becoming a millionaire two months ago, he said he has no plans to change his way of living, saying: “There is enough security [here]. There won’t be any problem. I can even walk around at night without any problem.”

He told the BBC that he planned to continue looking after his 2,000 cattle, and he did not need to take any extra precautions despite his new-found riches.

The 52-year-old urged his fellow small-scale miners to work with the government, saying that his experience was a good example. “Selling to the government means there are no shortcuts… they are transparent,” he said at a ceremony in the northern Mirerani mine.

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