A small-scale miner in Tanzania has become an overnight millionaire after unearthing two of the biggest rough tanzanite gemstones ever found.

Tanzania’s government bought the book-sized stones from miner Saniniu Laizer for £2.74 million.

Minerals minister Doto Biteko said the government is buying the rare minerals for preservation.

“We’re signing agreements today in public to facilitate the cash transfer … and the government recognises Laizer is a new billionaire,” he said, speaking in terms of the local currency.

Mr Laizer said in a televised interview he plans to open a shopping centre and a school for his community.

“The money that I have received today, I will allocate it to more development activities,” he said.

Tanzania is a rich country, President John Magufuli said when congratulating him.

Tanzanite is found only in the East African country.

Mining activities accounted for 17% of the East African country’s economy in 2019.

Mr Magufuli’s administration has imposed reforms that seek to curb smuggling and increase revenue collection in the sector.

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