Tanzanite gemstones valued at more than 2.5 billion/- were auctioned during the recently held Arusha Gem Fair 2016. The blue stones were part of highly valued minerals impounded from smugglers in recent days.
The government, through the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, opted to auction gems, diamonds, gold and other valuable minerals that were impounded from smugglers. They were auctioned during this year's instalment of the annual mineral fair.
Deputy Commissioner for Minerals Engineer Ally Samaje said the value of Tanzanite gemstones that were put up for auction in Arusha was worth more than 2.5 billion/-. and sold under the hammer at the 5th instalment of the annual Arusha Gems Fair 2016 held at the Mount Meru Hotel grounds.
"Each bidder was supposed to pledge the amount in secrecy, thus the value of each buyer remained under wraps to ensure that the government gets the highest value possible without the buyers colluding to keep prices low as it has been the case in other auctions involving valuable items," said Engineer Samaje.
The 5th Arusha Gemstones Fair 2016 under the theme of 'Minerals of East Central and Southern Africa in one fair,' attracted participants from all over the world with much of their interest being pegged on Tanzanite that is only found and mined in Northern Tanzania.
During the preceding Arusha Gem Fair of April 2015 Minerals and Gemstones worth 7.4 billion/- were sold, earning interest of more than 300 million/-. After the three days of this year's event at least 10 billion/- worth of transactions were expected, according the organizers.
"But the most important thing with this year's fair is to have local miners and mineral dealers meet and exchange experience with counterparts from African countries and those hailing from as far as India, Australia, Israel, Thailand and Sir Lanka," said the Deputy Commissioner of Minerals.
The Arusha-Urban District Commissioner, Mr Fadhili Nkulu was the guest honour during the opening ceremony of the Arusha Gem Fair 2016. He said locally mined minerals must be polished and processed in the country before export so as to add value and create employment.
Nearly 1000 exhibitors and participants were in Arusha to attend the gemstones Fair 2016 and among them 500 from Tanzania.