[KHTS] – Santa Clarita officials have shed some light on an approval made Tuesday expected to further the city’s effort to support Cemex legislation — and avert a major mining operation in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced a “zero score” bill recently, a major step forward for those opposed to the mine.
The city-owned property where Cemex has federal mining rights will go to the federal government if the mining plan is stopped.
But there are pieces to the puzzle outside the bill’s language needed to help the bill’s passage in addition to the no-cost-to-taxpayer designation needed in order for U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, to carry the bill in the House, which he’s stated has been a problem with past legislation.
“The only thing that’s contained in the legislation is, again, the cancellation of (Cemex’s mining contracts),” said Mike Murphy, Santa Clarita intergovernmental relations officer, “and the withdrawal of the property from mineral entry, which means it can not be mined.”
However, a land gift from the city of Santa Clarita to the federal government might help federal officials’ approval of the process. The land under discussion Tuesday was a 176-acre vacant plot about a half-mile east of Agua Dulce Canyon Road in Agua Dulce.
The Cemex legislation is one Santa Clarita officials and federal representatives have been working on for more than a decade. The mining company has two 10-year contracts to cull aggregate from Soledad Canyon.
No mining can take place in Soledad Canyon until the contract issue can be resolved, Murphy said.
That’s where the city’s recent progress has made the situation the most promising it’s ever been with respect to stopping the mine, from the city’s perspective, Murphy said.
The city purchased the surface area of the land where a Cemex mine would go more than a decade ago. However, the mining company’s mineral rights to the land underneath supercede any surface rights by law, Murphy said.
Now, the city is planning to give the land to the federal government with the understanding that there would be no mining there at any date, and the land would instead be used as a northern access point for the San Gabriels.
“We’re very, very pleased to be able to be working with the process with various agencies,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, regarding the city’s progress on Cemex. “Now that a national monument is in place, the Forest Service will need an access into the National Monument.”
The Cemex property abuts the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The land, which city officials purchased from Canyon Country Enterprises back in 2004, is expected to be a gateway to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument that President Barack Obama declared in October.
The city purchased the land 10 years ago for $293,010. The tract number was changed subsequently, and the land is currently valued at more than $356,000, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office.
The city of Santa Clarita and Cemex, an international mining company, have been working cooperatively for more than a decade to compensate Cemex for its Soledad Canyon mining contracts while avoiding a large-scale, multi-decade mining operation near the city’s eastern border.
Because the item is on the closed session agenda and linked to a property negotiation, city officials are not commenting further on the nature of the deal.
Over the summer, Santa Clarita officials, including Councilman Bob Kellar, testified on Senate Bill 771, about the city’s commitment to achieving a zero score for the Cemex mining bill.