Saniniu Laizer said he wants to use his $3.4 million to improve his community and build a school

By Rachel DeSantis
June 25, 2020 11:52 AM
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Saniniu Laizer
Tanzania Ministry of Minerals

A small-scale miner in Tanzania is celebrating a recent windfall after he discovered the two largest Tanzanite stones on record.

Saniniu Laizer, 52, became a millionaire overnight after he sold his rough gemstones to the government for $3.4 million, the BBC reported.

The stones, which are blue and purple in color, reportedly weighed in at a combined 33 lbs., and are among the rarest gemstones on earth.

Laizer, who reportedly has four wives and more than 30 children, told the BBC there will be a “big party” to mark the occasion, and that he’ll slaughter one of his more than 2,000 cows to celebrate.

Saniniu Laizer
Tanzania Ministry of Minerals

“This is the benefit of small-scale miners and this proves that Tanzania is rich,” said President John Magufuli.

According to the BBC, Laizer mined the stones last week and sold them to the country’s mining ministry on Wednesday during a trading event in Manyara. One weighed in at approximately 20.28 lbs., while the other was 12.78 lbs. Prior to his discoveries, the largest Tanzanite stone ever found weighed just 7.27 lbs.

Despite the influx of cash, Laizer said he doesn’t want to make any changes to his lifestyle, and instead hopes to use the money to better his community by building a shopping mall and a school.

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“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 told the BBC. “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 also added that he does not plan on employing any extra security to protect himself, as he feels comfortable walking “around at night without any problem.”

Tanzanite is found only in the hills of Merelani in northern Tanzania, making it rarer than diamond, according to the Gemological Institute of America. It was first unearthed in 1967.

The mines where Laizer found his gems are surrounded by a wall as a means of controlling illegal mining and trading, Reuters reported.

Last year, Tanzania reportedly set up trading centers so that artisanal miners — who are not officially employed by any companies and who usually mine by hand — could sell their findings to the government.