City Council makes statement on Cemex controversy

The sunset is reflected in a pool of water at the proposed Cemex mining site in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Santa Clarita City Council formally expressed support at its April 10 meeting for Senate Resolution 96, a bipartisan effort to urge national officials to stop the proposed Cemex mining project in Soledad Canyon.

State Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, and Senator Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, authored the resolution and introduced it March 21. The resolution points out the the circumstances of the Santa Clara River, which Cemex hopes to draw thousands of gallons of water per year from for the mine. S.R. 96 also raises concerns over increased traffic on State Route 14, which could see over 1,200 additional truck and vehicle trips daily due to the mine, according to the resolution.

“The proposed mega-mine project has threatened our community for over 25 years,” Wilk said in a news release. “Its implementation would wreak havoc on our roads, our environment, our quality of life and our most precious resource, water. It is absolutely imperative that we do all we can to stop this disastrous project.”

Wording in the Omnibus spending bill, signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, seeks to  end the decades-long fight over Soledad Canyon mining operations. The language would preclude any mining operations in Soledad Canyon upon the conclusion or termination of existing contracts, according to Knight’s office.

However, much still hinges on how the federal Interior Board of Land Appeals will rule with respect to an ongoing appeal by Cemex, the international mining conglomerate that’s seeking to operate a “mega-mine” just east of city limits — namely, what is the proper status of the existing contracts.

Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, has been working with multiple offices in Congress to permanently address the mine site, according to a previous story by The Signal.

“Until we’re done, Cemex is (the) No. 1 (priority),” Knight said in a previous interview, referring to a resolution to the city’s ongoing fight with the international mining company

Two mining contracts for Soledad Canyon — which have been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management — were originally awarded in 1990, and would allow Cemex to extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from hundreds of acres in Soledad Canyon just outside of the city’s northeast border.

The city of Santa Clarita has spent approximately $12.15 million in fighting Cemex. The figure, which includes about $6.16 million spent on legal fees, has grown steadily over the years. In 2002, the city had spent $1.5 million in legal fees, administrative costs and public relations campaigns to block the mine, according to news reports at the time. By 2008, the number was reportedly more than $7 million, according to previous Signal reporting.

The City Council passed supporting the resolution through voting on its consent calendar.

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