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Traveling to the Tanzanite Mines of Tanzania

by Steve Moriarty October 24, 2023


While in Tanzania, we were invited by our friend, Suni Marasheki, to visit his Tanzanite mine in Mererani. He picked us up at our hotel in Arusha and we started the drive, which takes over an hour to get there. As we got further from Mount Meru, the lush greenery began to change and look more like a semi-arid grassland with many shrubs. As we drove up to the mine, we saw the wall which surrounds the Tanzanite mining area as well as the government operated entrance to the mine. We were not allowed to film that. Once we got through the entrance, we were escorted by a person from the military to keep an eye on our visit. They hopped in the backseat and we headed over to Suni's mine.

As we drove by, you could see all of the individual mines that are scattered throughout D-Block. Each mine has its own wall constructed around their claim. While these walls keep people out on the surface, we've heard stories that, once underground, some mines have snaked in any which way and ended up accidentally digging into their neighbor's mine. Whoops. We pulled through the entrance of Suni's claim, the Natonya Camp, and he gave us a quick tour, which included showing us the generator for the air pump which feeds the oxygen to the mine, the sleeping quarters of the miners, the current entrance to the mine, and the old original mine entrance, steep wooden ladder and all. I don't think we would have went down if we would have had to go that way.

Here it is, the original mine entrance, guarded by a perimeter of what Suni called "wait a little bit." I didn't know what that meant until I got stuck on one and he said, "Wait a little bit," meaning stop and wait and untangle yourself from these sharp thorns. It was nature's barbed wire. I got untangled and thought, "Yeah, that entrance is a no for me."

So how far does that go?

I think it's 500 to 600 meters.


Yeah. According to this [inaudible 00:03:21].

If you didn't catch that, Suni said his mine goes five to 600 meters. That's just under 2000 feet. I don't think I was prepared to go that far. This is the newer entrance. It looked a bit more comforting. While it wasn't straight down, the carved steps were still steep and a challenge to navigate for us novices. The air was cool, still, and filled with the loose dirt we were kicking up. We had to watch our footing carefully. One wrong step could send us tumbling down this mine shaft.

[Foreign language 00:05:00].

[Foreign language 00:05:03].

The pulley system you see there on the ceiling is actually used to pull bags of dirt from the bottom of the mine to the surface where it's dumped.

[foreign language 00:05:17]. Name?



Yeah. What about you guys?

Oloo, Sabatoor.

From one blast, just one or multiple?

[inaudible 00:05:34].

While we were down there, the miners showed us some holes that were left behind after past blastings. That and they showed us some of the indicator minerals along the way.

[inaudible 00:06:06] mica.

[Foreign language 00:06:31].

Oh, very cool.

Pulling air. He is good.

While it was a cool experience being down there, I was ready to go back up. Heading back up was a lot more exhausting, but a whole lot less challenging and much quicker.

Thank you. That was awesome.

How was it?

Good. Good. Yeah.

So we're here at SUNY's Mine in Marrarni and Michael and Jeff just made the trip down into the mine.

Yes, these guys back here, they took us down. They do this all the time. It is hard work.

Yes. You should have seen them a couple of minutes ago when they were just panting.

They went down, down and up. No problem. No problem. Me and Jeff, it was a little bit of a challenge.

Yeah. I've been down there twice. I don't need a third time, so I stayed up here, but they had a great time.

Oh yeah. Yeah. It was super cool down there. And what they do is it's amazing. And the gems that they're finding are just extraordinary.

Yeah. So SUNY bought explosives today and they did a little bit of blasting.

They showed us the blast holes Blasting. Yes, they were doing the blasting and they showed us where they drill and then they put the dynamite in and then blast.

So we'll see maybe in the next few days whether they actually had any success or not. But we had a really successful day and we found some nice tanzanite in the town here and found Chrome Tourmalines. What else did we get? Real nice pink, er--lavender spinel.

Yeah, that was nice.

Rubellite. What else? That was pretty much it.

Yeah, that's pretty much it for today, yeah.

Yeah. It was overall a really good day and we hope to find a lot more here and hopefully again, SUNY gets lucky with this current blasting he's doing.

Oh yeah. Yeah. So that should be good. And I'm sure I'll be sleeping good tonight.

And we have to thank these gentlemen.

Thank you.


Steve Moriarty
Steve Moriarty

Steve Moriarty has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years. Steve is not only a jeweler, but a gem cutter and designer. He has traveled the world in search of gemstone rough and has owned a retail jewelry store for 20 years located in Crown Point, Indiana.

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