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Tanzanian miner becomes millionaire overnight, plans to build a school for his community

While many in his position would indulge in worldly pleasures after such a turn of fate, Laizer doesn't plan to change his lifestyle.

Tanzanian miner becomes millionaire overnight, plans to build a school for his community
Cover Image Source: Tanzania Search Ministry of Minerals

A small-scale Tanzanian miner's fate changed overnight after he mined two rough Tanzanite stones that are the biggest ever to have been mined in the country. Saniniu Laizer earned a whopping $3.4m from the country's mining ministry for his find and now plans to use the unexpected windfall to give back to his community. The 52-year-old revealed that he will use the money to build a school in his community in Simanjiro district in Manyara for children whose parents cannot afford to give them an education otherwise. While many in his position would indulge in worldly pleasures after such a turn of fate, Laizer has no plans of changing his current lifestyle.



 

According to BBC, Laizer sold the stones—weighing 9.2kg (20.3lb) and 5.8kg (12.8lb)—at a trading event in the northern region of Manyara, a week after he mined them. Before his impressive find, the largest Tanzanite rock to be mined weighed 3.3kg (7.3lb). Tanzanite is one of the rarest gemstones on Earth and is only found in northern Tanzania. The precious stone is used to make ornaments with its incredible variety of hues—including green, red, purple, and blue—being the most appealing part of its charm.



 

The value of the gemstone is determined by its rarity with the price rising depending on the color and clarity. A local geologist estimates that the planet's supply of Tanzanite may be entirely depleted within the next two decades. This made Laizer's discovery all the more monumental, prompting a congratulatory phone call from President John Magufuli himself. "This is the benefit of small-scale miners and this proves that Tanzania is rich," said Magufuli, who came to power in 2015 with the promise to safeguard the country's interest in the mining sector and grow the government's revenue from it.



 

Laizer, who has four wives and over 30 children, revealed that he would slaughter one of his cows to celebrate the discovery of the gemstones. "There will be a big party tomorrow," he told reporters. Speaking of his plans for the sudden windfall, he explained his aspirations for the community. "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."



 

Laizer maintained that his lifestyle would not change due to the rise in his financial status. He plans to continue looking after his 2,000 cows and does not think that he needs to take any extra precautions to protect his new-found riches or himself. "There is enough security [here]. There won't be any problem. I can even walk around at night without any problem," he said. While small-scale miners like Laizer are required to acquire government licenses to prospect for Tanzanite, illegal mining runs rampant in the country; especially near mines owned by big companies.



 

To put an end to such illegal mining practices, President Magufuli in 2017 ordered the military to build a 14-mile long perimeter wall around the Merelani mining site in Manyara as it is believed to be the world's only source of Tanzanite. The government reported a rise in revenue in the mining sector a year later, which was attributed to the construction of the wall. Tanzania's ministry of minerals officials praised the wall again in a press release about Laizer's find, writing: "Finally the benefits of the 24.5-kilometer-long [14 miles] wall erected by the government around the Tanzanite Mireran Mines have become increasingly fruitful after the new history was produced by the largest Tanzanite mineral production in the history of mining in the country."



 

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