A Tanzanian mine worker hit the jackpot on Wednesday after the government handed a check for 7.74 billion Tanzania shillings ($ 3.35 million) for the two biggest tanzanite gems ever found.

Saniniu Laizer found two arm-sized dark purple-blue gemstones in one of Tanzania’s mines in the north of the country, which is surrounded by walls, to control smuggling of cross-border gemstones.

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The first gem weighs 9.27 kg, while the second gem weighs 5.103 kg, a ministry spokesman said.

Tanzanite is a gemstone found only in the small northern region of the East African country.

“Today’s program … is to recognize the two biggest Tanzanian gems in history since the Mirerani mining began,” Simon Msanjila, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines, said at a ceremony in the Simanjiro District, north of Manyara, Tanzania.

Laizer’s was introduced on Tanzanian television, where extensive checks were carried out after the Bank of Tanzania bought the gems. President John Magufulii telephoned to greet the Laizer live on TV.

“This confirms that Tanzania is rich,” Magufuli told Mineral Minister Doto Biteko.

Tanzania had established national shopping centres last year so that small-scale miners could sell their gems and gold to the government. Craftsmen are not officially employed by any mining company and usually mine by hand.

Magufuli inaugurated a wall around the Tanzania mining concession in northern Tanzania in April 2018 to control illegal mining and trade activities. At that time, 40% of the tanzanite produced there was lost.

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