By Jon Dell and Carol Rock
Cemex, City of Santa Clarita and Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon announce an agreement that will prevent mining on Soledad Canyon Road.
The end could be very near for a nine year battle to prevent Cemex from operating a sand and gravel mine on the eastern edge of Santa Clarita.
This morning, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon stood alongside Cemex and Santa Clarita representatives and described an agreement between all parties that was submitted to the House of Representatives on Thursday as HR 5887.
“This proposal would cancel the Soledad Canyon mining contracts between Cemex and BLM (Federal Bureau of Land Management), ending the possibility of any future mining in Soledad Canyon,” McKeon said. “The proposal would also fully and fairly compensate Cemex for having its contract with the BLM cancelled and provide the company with land near Victorville that is comparable in value to the company’s investment in the cancelled contracts.”
“The company intends to sell the land, if required as part of this legislation, to help with Victorville’s future economic development plans,” he concluded.
Victorville Councilman Mike Rothschild said that this was an all-around win for Cemex, Santa Clarita and Victorville, adding that the city already has plans for the 5,000-plus acre parcel that includes the location of a new power plant, the jet train from Vegas and an intermodal station facilitating the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
McKeon reassured everyone that the land swap was not trading mine for mine, indicating that the Victorville land could never be used for mining operations.
A sand and gravel mine was first proposed in 1991 off Soledad Canyon Road. The mineral rights to the property were granted, and a company called Transit Mixed Concrete was gearing up to begin a major mining operation that would remove 73 million tons of minerals over 20 years.
Starting in 1999, several actions were taken to halt the mega mine from operating because of the traffic, air quality, and local economic impacts it would cause. The County Regional Planning Commission first rejected the mine, however because the mining authority was granted by the BLM, the County’s jurisdiction was minimized.
Cemex then came into the picture, purchasing Transit Mixed Concrete, and a series of negotiations began with the Santa Clarita, who had launched a major oppositional campaign against the mine.
After negotiations broke down the City began a public relations war against the mine.
In February of 2007, a truce was called to allow both sides to negotiate. Today’s agreement stems from those talks.