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Tanzanian miner strikes it rich, unearthing three massive rare gems

A small-scale miner in Tanzania who had become an overnight millionaire over a month ago when he unearthed two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found has struck it rich again, digging up a third stone weighing 13 pounds with an estimated value of $2 million. The three stones were discovered by Saninu Laizer.

The first two stones have an estimated value of $3.4 million. After the first discovery, Laizer, a father of more than 30 children, told the BBC: "There will be a big party tomorrow."

Tanzania Huge Gem
In this image made from video, Saninu Laizer, a small scale miner, holds a 13-pounds tanzanite stone he dug up in Mererani, Tanzania, Monday Aug. 3, 2020.  / AP

Tanzanite, with a deep violet-blue color, is found only in the East African country and considered to be one of the rarest gemstones on earth.

Laizer waved the large stone over his head before handing it over to Tanzanian government officials who gave him a check to purchase it.

"I am begging my fellow miners, that we should patriotic by adhering to rule and regulations and committing ourselves to work hard so that we prosper," said Laizer, in Swahili, referring to regulations that tanzanite stones should be sold directly to the government, rather than to illegal traders.

"We Tanzanians have decided that minerals should first benefit us as a country," said the Minister for Mines Dotto Biteko. "We have had enough of selling our gems to others who benefit while our communities remain poor. For example, in many mining areas business has gone up. Even areas where there was no business now things have improved."

Laizer told the BBC  that he plans to use the money to invest in his community in Manyara.

"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 told the BBC he would not change his lifestyle, and that he planned to continue looking after his 2,000 cows. 

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