Small Tanzanite miner finds 8bn/- gemstones

25Jun 2020
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
Small Tanzanite miner finds 8bn/- gemstones

​​​​​​​Laizer Kurian, clad in Maasai shuka attire, is an ordinary nomadic pastoralist, but as he smiles all the way to the bank, his teller will have a shock of her life when he extends his hand to make an eight billion shillings deposit.

Saniniu Laizer, a small-scale tanzanite miner at Mirerani township in Manyara Region, pictured yesterday handing over to Minerals minister Doto Biteko (L, foreground) the two pieces of the rare gemstone found only in Tanzania which he has dug up. He has sold them to the government for 8bn/- but, in fact, earned some 7.5bn/- – after tax. Photo: Correspondent Cynthia Mwilolezi

President John Magufuli, after being told of the finding of large tanzanite stones usually yielded by large miners, directed that the state purchases the gemstones, where the miner will remain with7.5bn/- after taxes.

May later be awed by the nearly 8billion/- deposit in his account.

The artisan Miner did strike it lucky overnight, when his Block D’ quarry yielded two valuable tanzanite gemstones worth 7.5bn/- after taxes, a feat usually achieved by large scale conglomerates.

The state bought the two gemstones straight from the miner and paid the miner via a cheque from the Treasury directly to his bank account, with a ceremony for him to receive a dummy cheque for that amount.

President John Magufuli placed a direct phone call to the small-scale miner through the Minister for Minerals, Dotto Biteko who was officiating the dummy cheque ceremony at Mirerani Hills of Simanjiro, Manyara Regionl yesterday.

The conversation with the president was aired live to the public during the event, where he congratulated Laizer, the residents of Simanjiro and the entire Manyara region.

"It is now obvious that the minerals are benefitting ordinary local people,” Dr Magufuli remarked.

Biteko said that in the past small scale miners were being ignored and dismissed as being ill equipped, as they are not able to drill deeper than 1000 meters from ground level.

“They used to scare people so that only large scale firms could be allowed to mine in designated quarries, but today you have seen it by yourselves. An ordinary miner has managed to strike two valuable stones with the same equipment,” the minister noted, insisting that local miners can do it.

He advised the miner to "invest the money earned into other profitable ventures that will guarantee him and descendants, steady income for now and future as well as creating employment to others."

Deputy Minister Stansalus Nyong’o said President Magufuli is a game changer in the country’s mineral sector and the recent record of Mirerani bears witness to the new reality.

Flanked on all sides by friends and relatives, the jubilant Laizer said he was impressed by the fact that the government bought his gemstones. “We are really assured now that instead of seeking markets abroad, our gemstones can fetch rightful income here,” he said.

Dr Ashatu Kijaji, the deputy minister for Finance and Planning said the Mirerani wall has helped to prevent mineral theft and smuggling from the quarries. It is now possible for ordinary Tanzanians to benefit from their troves, she added.

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