A Tanzanian mining boss has earned about $3.35m after workers at his operation in the east African country found the two largest tanzanite gemstones ever recorded.
The two dark violet-blue gemstones, each about 30cm long and 10cm thick, were discovered by miners employed by Saniniu Laizer in a mine in the north of the country.
Local and international reporting of the find has described a rags to riches story, with a “subsistence miner” said to have “hit the jackpot”.
However, Laizer runs a substantial mining operation involving more than 200 people, which he has funded with the profits of his extensive cattle and farming businesses, and was not present when the record-breaking find was made.
The first gemstone weighed 9.27kg and the second 5.103kg, a mines ministry spokesperson said. Both were found last week, but the discovery only became known when Laizer sold them to the government on Wednesday. He said that 10% of the earnings from the sale of the stones will be distributed among the workers.
Relatives said Laizer, 52, was organising festivities to celebrate the find in his home village.
The president reportedly ordered officials to buy the two gemstones and place them in the national museum in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, where tourists can admire them. “This is a confirmation that Tanzania is rich,” Magufuli said.