Cemex 'Disappointed': Cemex ‘Disappointed’ in BLM Questions About Mining Plan
[KHTS] – Cemex officials were “disappointed” Wednesday by a letter sent from the Bureau of Land Management questioning their ability to mine on Soledad Canyon.
Here’s a copy of the letter from Cemex
Cemex challenged a statement from federal officials earlier this month, which claimed the international mining company — which claims mineral rights to mine 56 million tons of aggregate just east of city limits — hasn’t followed through on its responsibility.
The Bureau of Land Management officials’ approval back in 2000 was conditional upon “significant conditions,” according to federal officials in a letter sent March 13 to Cemex.
Here’s a copy of the letter from the Bureau of Land Management.
However, Cemex officials laid out an outline of meetings with federal officials in the past seven years.
“During these meetings, neither the BLM nor the Department of Interior ever raised any issue regarding Cemex’s diligence or the possibility that the federal government might have any basis to assert the breach of the contracts…” according to a letter from Cliff Kirkmyer, executive vice president of aggregates and mining resources.
“I would fully expect that Cemex would respond with legal issues back to BLM,” said Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, “that would be normal procedure.”
“We will still work 100 percent full speed ahead for a resolution with this issue with our congressman, our senators, and, of course, the BLM and Cemex,” Weste said. “Our job is to bring resolution to the issue, and we’re strongly looking to continue our effort to bring this to conclusion and to not have mining in Santa Clarita.”
A reduced-scale project was discussed with federal officials in February, according to the letter, in large part to appease Santa Clarita concerns.
“Yet now, you appear to take a radical about-turn and appear to threaten Cemex’ interests,” according to the letter. The letter concludes by asking for Cemex to explicitly lay out federal demands.
Cemex declined to comment beyond the letter when reached for questioning Wednesday.
From a previous story:
Federal BLM officials sent a letter Monday withdrawing support for Cemex to mine Soledad Canyon.
The Bureau of Land Management’s 2000 approval was conditional upon “significant conditions,” according to federal officials Monday.
“It’s unclear how, or if, this development can proceed,” officials stated in a letter to Cemex dated Friday.
The letter seems to indicate the federal government, i.e. the Bureau of Land Management, has reversed its position, based on new information, a city official said Monday.
“What this letter says to us is that the BLM finally agrees with the city,” said Mike Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for Santa Clarita, “that siting this mine in Soledad Canyon is not a good idea.”
The federal government previously opposed a legislative deal struck at the congressional level that would have compensated the mining company with land in Victorville, if the company agreed to give its two 10-year contracts for mineral rights in Soledad Canyon.
“The city is very appreciative of our legislative delegation that continues to work so hard on this issue for us,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar, who’s also been working on the issue for a number of years.
The federal government cited a need for aggregate, as well as concern over the precedent of selling federal land to compensate a private company as previous reasons for its objection.
Exactly what it means for the future of Soledad Canyon mining is unclear at this time, officials said.
However, the letter represents a drastic shift in federal policy toward the mine site, noting significant changes to the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas since the contracts were first approved around the turn of the century.
“It’s the BLM’s assessment that Cemex has not completed the necessary consultations and has not obtained all of the necessary approvals and permits to begin operations,” in a letter signed by James G. Kenna, state director for the Bureau of Land Management.
“Second, Cemex must comply with the Mitigation and Monitoring Program… ” the letter continued, and “… failed to exercise due diligence in fulfilling the terms of its two mineral sales contact.”
The letter continues that conditions have changed since the original permits were granted, officials said.
“With the administration’s announcement, the equation has changed,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California. “It is clear there is broad agreement that Cemex should not mine in this populated area.”
Since the federal government initially sold the rights to mine Soledad Canyon — on land the city has since bought the surface rights to — there have been several changes: Traffic loads have changed; the San Gabriel National Monument, which is adjacent to the mining site, was designated in 2014; the environmental documents and any permits would no longer be valid; and the opposition to the mine has grown stronger as Santa Clarita’s population has grown.
Additionally, during the past 14 years, the BLM has supported Cemex in litigation and done nothing to stand in Cemex’s way, according to Kenna’s letter.
Due to all these circumstances, Cemex’s position in negotiations should be reconsidered, according to federal officials.©2015 KHTS AM-1220 | SCVTV