“Tanzania gets just 5% of revenues from the global tanzanite trade – all the rest of this precious gemstone benefits other people abroad. This is unacceptable,” said Tanzania’s president John Magufuli who cuses mining firms of cheating Tanzania out of its fair share of mineral wealth through tax dodging and smuggling. On Friday he ordered the military to build walls around its tanzanite mines and directed the central bank to buy the precious stone to boost reserves. The blue-violet tanzanite gemstone scientifically called “blue zoisite” is found only in the East African nation.
It was discovered by Manuel d’Souza in the Mirerani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite appears alternately blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystal orientation. can also appear differently when viewed under alternate lighting conditions. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose tanzanite as a December birthstone. From 1967, an estimated two million carats of tanzanite were mined in Tanzania before the mines were nationalized by the Tanzanian government in 1971. The new laws established a National Gold and Gemstone Reserve under the control of the central bank.