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Tanzanian miner becomes overnight millionaire after large gemstone find

Tanzania’s government has bought the book-sized stones from miner Saniniu Laizer for £2.74 million.

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Saniniu Laizer, right, hands over two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found to government officials (AP Photo)

Saniniu Laizer, right, hands over two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found to government officials (AP Photo)

Saniniu Laizer, right, hands over two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found to government officials (AP Photo)

A small-scale miner in Tanzania has become an overnight millionaire after unearthing two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found.

Tanzania’s government bought the book-sized stones from miner Saniniu Laizer for £2.74 million.

Minerals minister Doto Biteko said the government is buying the rare minerals for preservation.

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One of two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found is weighed in Mererani, Tanzania (AP Photo)

One of two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found is weighed in Mererani, Tanzania (AP Photo)

AP/PA Images

One of two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found is weighed in Mererani, Tanzania (AP Photo)

“We’re signing agreements today in public to facilitate the cash transfer … and the government recognises Laizer is a new billionaire,” he said, speaking in terms of the local currency.

Mr Laizer said in a televised interview he plans to open a shopping centre and a school for his community.

“The money that I have received today, I will allocate it to more development activities,” he said.

Tanzania is a rich country, President John Magufuli said when congratulating him.

Tanzanite is found only in the East African country.

Mining activities accounted for 17% of the East African country’s economy in 2019.

Mr Magufuli’s administration has imposed reforms that seek to curb smuggling and increase revenue collection in the sector.

PA Media