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Tanzanian miner finds third rare tanzanite gem worth millions after record haul


A small-scale miner from Tanzania made another record discovery of one of the world’s rarest gemstone this month, hauling in a precious, 14-pound stone valued at $2 million, according to a report.

Saniniu Laizer, 52, became an overnight millionaire in June after he sold two violet-blue tanzanite gemstones said to be the largest ever found in the country. Weighing a total of 33 pounds, he sold them for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($3.4 million U.S. dollars).

Laizer announced he would slaughter one of his 2,000 cows, have a big party, and invest in the local community after finding the two record stones earlier this summer, according to the BBC.

TANZANIAN MINER FINDS RECORD TANZANITE GEMS, BECOMES OVERNIGHT MILLIONAIRE

“There will be a big party tomorrow,” said Laizer, from the Manyara region. “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.”

“I am not educated but I like things run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally,” he continued.

The BBC reported that he has four wives and more than 30 children.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.
(TANZANIA MINISTRY OF MINERALS)

While a party isn’t on his schedule this time around, Laizer said on Monday he would continue with his dream in using the money to build a school, as well as a health facility in his community — located in the northern Manyara region.

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Tanzanite is said to be a gemstone found only in the northern region of the country. It’s reportedly used to make ornaments — with its rarity defined by how clear or well defined the color is.

Tanzania President John Magufuli had ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site in 2017 — believed to be the world’s only source of tanzanite — with its supply estimated to be depleted within 20 years, a geologist told the news organization.

Last year, Tanzania set up trading centers to allow artisanal miners, like Laizer, to sell their gems and gold to the government. Many reportedly mine by hand without any affiliation to mining companies. Following his recent discovery, Laizer encouraged other small scale miners to work for the government.

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“Selling to the government means there are no shortcuts,” he said during a ceremony celebrating his find in the northern Mirerani mine, according to the BBC. “They are transparent.”



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China set for historic Mars rover launch


China is making preparations to send its Tianwen-1 Mars rover to the Red Planet.

The rover, which will be China’s first to reach the Martian surface, will be carried into space on a Long March-5 rocket.

The carrier rocket has been moved into position and is due to blast off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, in the southern island province of Hainan, in late July or early August, according to scientists involved in the project.

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Citing unofficial estimates, Space.com reports the launch could occur around July 23.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, a Mars lander is lifted during a test for its hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities at a facility at Huailai in China's Hebei province.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, a Mars lander is lifted during a test for its hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities at a facility at Huailai in China’s Hebei province.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Tianwen means “questions to heaven” and is the name of a poem by ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan.

“The Tianwen-1 probe, with a mass (including fuel) of about 5 tonnes, comprises an orbiter and a lander/rover composite,” explains the mission’s chief scientist and his team in a recent paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. “The orbiter will provide a relay communication link to the rover, while performing its own scientific observations for one Martian year.”

A Martian year lasts 687 days.

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The probe is expected to reach Mars seven months after its launch. “The lander/rover will perform a soft landing on the Martian surface some 2–3 months after arrival of the spacecraft, with a candidate landing site in Utopia Planitia,” the chief scientist explains in the paper. In 1976, NASA’s Viking 2 Lander also landed in Utopia Planitia.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, the Mars lander's hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities are tested at a facility at Huailai in China's Hebei province.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, the Mars lander’s hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities are tested at a facility at Huailai in China’s Hebei province.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

In 2011, China launched its Yinghuo-1 Mars exploration mission, but the orbiter was stranded in near-Earth orbit following a malfunction on the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission carrying it into space. NASA noted that the Chinese and Russian spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Jan. 15, 2012.

This is a busy time for Mars launches. The United Arab Emirates recently launched its Amal orbiter to the Red Planet. Amal, which is Arabic for Hope, will not land on Mars, but is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

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NASA is also getting ready to launch its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on an epic mission to the Red Planet. The launch window for the spacecraft that will carry the Perseverance rover to Mars opens on July 30 and closes on Aug. 15 of this year.

Launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the rover is scheduled to land on Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The mission’s duration on the Red Planet’s surface is expected to last at least one Martian year.

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So far, the U.S. has been the only country to successfully put a spacecraft on Mars, doing it eight times. Two NASA landers are operating there, InSight and Curiosity. Six other spacecraft are exploring the planet from orbit: three U.S., two European and one from India.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers





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