Cemex USA and the City of Santa Clarita, Calif., announced early last month plans to explore mutually acceptable solutions for mining in Soledad Canyon,
Cemex USA and the City of Santa Clarita, Calif., announced early last month plans to explore mutually acceptable solutions for mining in Soledad Canyon, where the construction materials giant has earmarked a high-volume sand & gravel and ready mixed operation. For seven years, Cemex has pursued site development against a wave of legal challenges by city and Los Angeles County officials, coupled with stinging propaganda stunts voicing opponents’ traffic and environmental concerns. During a press conference, Cemex and city officials billed their arrangement as a truce running through 2007 that will result in a win-win for both parties. The middle ground they seek will reportedly limit Soledad Canyon mining, yet provide Cemex fair and full value. The proposed project lies in northern Los Angeles County near critical north-south transportation arteries.
Cemex USA President Gilberto Perez and Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp signed an agreement calling for the joint press conference and a cease fire in the media; curtailment of pending processes and permit applications related to the project past their December 31, 2006, status; and, focusing of resources by both parties in an effort this year to seek mutually acceptable solutions, possibly including federal legislation.
Santa Clarita has spent in excess of $7 million battling the issuance of permits toward a 2008 opening of the Soledad Canyon site, for which Cemex holds a U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease and rights to 69 million tons of reserves. Project opponents have failed at every attempt to compel the federal government to cancel the lease, which runs 21 years and would allow extraction to reach 3.9 million tons annually. Ignoring economies of scale and the lease’s term, city officials and other opponents have maintained that any permits should limit mining to 300,000 tons annually, approximating the extraction rate of the site’s previous, unpermitted operator.