Gold Occurrences in El Salvador

Coat of Arms of El Salvador

There are several volcanoes located in El Salvador with most of them found in the western part of the country and have all erupted during the Holocene.  It takes volcanic activity to create gold deposits, and that is exactly what has happened in El Salvador.  The heat from the volcanoes has driven the gold out in concentric circles around the volcanoes and is deposited when the temperature of the water drops below 300o C to about 200o C.  Quartz is also deposited at about the same range of temperature so they are often deposited at the same time.

Most of the lode gold found in El Salvador and Central America in general are in the form of epithermal deposits associated with the many volcanoes in the region.  These volcanoes are products of the subduction zone just off the west coast of Central America.  Many of these deposits grade to copper with depth making it possible that the largest copper deposits can also be found in the area.

Although there are little references to placer gold in the country it is reported to be found in most rivers and streams flowing from the interior as placer deposits in the bottom of the valleys.  Like other placer deposits it is found associated with the gravel deposits associated with flowing water.

First there was a gold rush in El Salvador that quickly was followed by the lawyers.  Although gold in plenty has been found in the country its large scale mining is being opposed by community groups, locals and environmentalists.  It seems their concern is mainly the distribution of wealth between the miners and the local population.  As we speak this is a battle moving its way through the courts!

Pacific Rim Mining has a project named El Dorado that is 65 km east of the capital of San Salvador that is presently in an advanced stage of exploration indicating there is 1.4 million ounces of proven resources available and a potential of much more that is the target for the present exploration program.

Mining and exploration is governed by the 1996 law that was last amended in 2001.
This law is administered by the Ministry of Economy’s Department of Hydrocarbons and Mines governs the granting of exploration license as well as exploitation concessions.  This allows the applicant the right to produce and sell valuable products recovered from natural resources within the area of the concession.  An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has to be approved by the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as well as satisfying a number of other conditions.  Once it is granted the law requires that mine construction be started within the next twelve months in accordance with the conditions on the final permit.