On Friday, July 31, 2020, the decades long battle to ensure that mega-mining never occurs in the Santa Clarita Valley, will be over, as CEMEX’s second 10-year mining contract will officially expire. CEMEX did request a one-year extension of the mining contract, a request which was denied by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
“Even though CEMEX has the option to appeal the denied one-year extension, the July 31, 2020, date is a landmark victory for the city of Santa Clarita, the community and our local environment,” said Councilmember and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member Bob Kellar. “As of that date, time will be up and there will no longer be active mining contracts for Soledad Canyon.”
This latest development comes after a pair of decisions in December 2019, in which BLM stated for the current mining contract, and the prior 10-year contract, no actual production had occurred and no annual payments in lieu of production were made, and therefore annual in lieu of production payments were due. BLM is demanding $6.3 million for CEMEX’s first 10-year contract, which expired in July 2010. In addition, BLM is also collecting the $700,000 bid deposit, made by CEMEX, as forfeiture, for the full purchase value of the first contract owed to BLM of $7 million.
BLM issued another notice on July 23, 2020, demanding that CEMEX pay the total purchase price for the second contract which is more than $21 million. Failure to do so will result in BLM submitting the unpaid bill to the United States Department of the Treasury as an outstanding debt. BLM has yet to receive any payment or correspondence from CEMEX regarding payment.
The other ongoing legal aspect is the lawsuit filed by CEMEX in federal court in the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of the Interior in May 2019. The suit seeks to invalidate BLM’s August 2015 cancellation of the contracts and reverse the administrative ruling issued in March 2019 by IBLA. The key part of that IBLA ruling is, all of CEMEX’s mining rights in Soledad Canyon will expire in July 31, 2020. The litigation is ongoing with no definitive timeline at this time.
“To hear the words, no active mining contract, is something our community has fought hard for over the past two-plus decades,” said Councilmember and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member, Laurene Weste. “The Santa Clarita Valley is a place of great historical significance and home to some of our country’s most iconic wildlife and critical plant species. Protecting this precious environment has been a community-wide fight, one we will continue to face as a united front of elected officials, organizations and residents.”
These most recent developments are the latest in what has been nearly a 25-year-long battle over mining rights in Soledad Canyon. The city of Santa Clarita has been fighting to prevent mining in Soledad Canyon since the CEMEX contracts were issued by the federal government in 1990. The CEMEX contracts would have allowed for the mining of 56 million tons of sand and gravel from Soledad Canyon, which would have added up to 1,164 truck trips a day to local roads and freeways. This would have caused air quality issues and potential negative impacts to the Santa Clara River, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and wildlife corridors connecting the Angeles National Forest, as well as fish, wildlife and plants in the area.
The city of Santa Clarita would like to thank all of our partners who fought and continue to fight to protect our community from mega-mining.