Handed a bill to pay more than $25 million in missed annual payments over the last two decades, Cemex now has three options, according to the Bureau of Land Management, which issued the bill Friday.
The mining giant can pay the bill. That’s option one, BLM spokeswoman Erica St. Michel said Monday.
Option two, should Cemex choose, would be to ask for more time to pay.
The last of the options, according to the BLM, is to show why the federal government shouldn’t cancel the mining contracts.
Phone and email messages left with Cemex representatives about the options Monday were not returned.
“I did speak with Masis (Hagobian) on Friday,” Michel said, referring to the city of Santa Clarita’s administrative analyst handling the Cemex issue.
The news Michel shared Friday with city officials left them happy that the BLM decision could be the tool that, once and for all, prohibits any chance that mining could commence in Soledad Canyon.
In a certified letter sent Friday to Cemex officials based in West Palm Beach, Florida, Joseph Stout, BLM California acting state director explained how the mining company ended up owing $25 million.
The money owed stems from the conditions laid out in two contracts issued to Cemex on March 9, 1990, for two consecutive 10-year periods, during which Cemex would sever, extract and removed aggregate material from the land.
The clock began ticking on the first 10-year mining contract on Aug. 1, 2000, Stout outlined in his letter. This meant the second contract began on Aug. 1, 2010, ending July 31, 2020.
Stout pointed out that in all that time, no mining was done.
“Under both contracts, Cemex has a contractual and regulatory obligation to produce mineral material or to make annual payments in lieu of production,” Stout said in the letter.
Since they didn’t produce anything by mining, they are expected to come up with money in lieu of what should have been mined.
Cemex has 30 days since the date of the certified letter to respond to the notice.
There is another option Cemex could pursue.
Friday’s BLM decision could be appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, Office of the Secretary.
This is the route Cemex chose to pursue in September 2015, a month after the BLM announced its decision to cancel the mining contracts.
It took the IBLA nearly five years to make a decision on that appeal. In March, the federal mediator body handed down a fractured decision, which was “affirmed in part, reversed in part, set aside in part and case remanded.”
If Cemex appeals Friday’s decision by the BLM — and the process takes as long as it did before — the IBLA could still be drafting its decision in 2024.