Preliminary tests conducted on volcanic ash from the La Soufriere volcano have revealed the presence of gold deposits.
Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel made the disclosure during an exclusive interview with Loop New Caribbean.
“As a matter of fact, one of the preliminary results show that coming out of the recent explosion and that the material that is on the ground does have within it gold,” said Daniel, who is also the minister of transport and works.
“G-o-l-d,” stressed the North Windward MP. “That’s interesting to you? Very well… but is it enough that we can harness to make us comfortable in gold production in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?”
Still, Daniel noted that “there are some economic values as to the deposits” and that more in-depth testing is needed.
Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister listed some of the ways the tons of volcanic debris strewn across St Vincent could be put to use.
“We would have seen over the years with the ashfall in 1979 by 1980 onwards that the soil would have been enhanced tremendously and that the output in agriculture for crops would have been tremendously enhanced. Productivity went up. Where you used to be getting one sack of potatoes you were now getting two and three. So therefore we know that there is a benefit to agriculture, but that was a smaller amount of ash then.
According to Daniel, one use of the ash would be to mix it with the sargassum seaweed, an almost ever-present “menace” on local beaches, or with an admixture of coconut shells to help fertilise backyard gardens and larger farms.
Some additional uses may be found by the construction industry, though he cautioned that more tests may be needed.
“My understanding is that it can be used within the construction industry. Presently, we are using material at Rabacca which has come down over time from the volcano… the aggregate.
“But you have that aggregate in different grades so that if you crush it you would get the fine particles that you are now exposed to in terms of the dust. Now the thing about the present aggregate is that it has been weathered over time. The ash now is new material and to the extent of how long should you wait to get what is desired now for the construction industry, I do not know. “That is why we have the experts [from the United Nations] here in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to assist with the testing of the material that is there so that we can be properly advised as to what it is,” he said.