Friday, June 18, 2004

USVI: When God gives you ash, make slate

BRADES, Montserrat (CMC) - The Montserrat government says it is optimistic about establishing a factory to utilize the ash generated from the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano.

Chief Minister John Osborne and Kenneth Cassell, the president of the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have expressed optimism that such a facility could be established on the island.

Osborne and Cassell recently held talks in Ireland with officials in connection with plans to set up the facility to manufacture roofing slate and other building construction materials.

A government statement said it also visited a factory in Ireland that uses volcanic ash to make roofing material.

Osborne told a news conference here on Tuesday that discussions were at an advanced stage to get the Irish company to start doing business here and using volcanic ash produced after almost 10 years of volcanic activity on Montserrat.

"We are expected to provide them with a factory shell and enough land for possible expansion. We are expecting a report from them about what to expect and where we are going," Osborne said.

"If we were to attract that industry to Montserrat, it would make a significant difference in Montserrat and it could replace things we now use such as asphalt shingles."

Osborne said there is great demand for roofing slate in Europe, and the island also was looking to exploit the market in Latin America.
Cassell said the product also would give Montserrat a competitive edge in the soon-to-be-established Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy.

"We must remember that in terms of industrialization, Montserrat is at a great disadvantage in the Caribbean, and as we approach the Single Market and Economy there's really no industry that we can embark in which we have a competitive advantage."

"With ash we have absolutely no competition. In addition, our ash is of a very high quality
," Cassell said.

He said the factory in Ireland and the company owners were keen to use the ash to manufacture a variety of products in the building sector.
No jokes about hauling ashes.


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