Dusty blue dreams
Text and photos by Johan Sävström
The blue gemstone Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania. Not far from Mount Kilimanjaro lies Mererani, where more than 70 mining companies operate within an area controlled by the government. Most of Mererani’s habitants live off the mines, and they all dream of finding the perfect blue stone that ensures a better life. Watch pictures from the mines in Mererani.
Awarded a travel scholarship by NAI, Audax Rukonge from Jyväskylä University, wrote a master’s thesis in 2006 about the mining community in Mererani, Tanzania (opens in new window).
Legend says that it was Masai cattle herders that first noticed this stone some 40 years ago after a fire caused by lightening burned areas in Tanzania. The herders noticed that brown zoiscite crystals had turned a deep blue-purple due to the heat from the fire.
It is dark, and the dust makes it difficult to breathe.
A total of 140 miners work in two shifts at Manga Gems.
Dynamite blasts the rocks in the shaft. When the dust dissipates blue stones might appear. Also the slag is carefully searched for Tanzanite.
Small stones of Tanzanite. First granite is removed from the stone, then just polish and sell it.
Film clip from Mererani, approximately 5 minutes long.