Aggregate mining deal could have added pollution, traffic, and degrade quality of life in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Mining is nothing new to the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, gold was discovered in the SCV 6 years before the Sutter’s Mill discovery that kicked off the
California Gold Rush.
Over the years, mining companies have come and gone. Gold, oil, gemstones, quartz, and other precious minerals have been mined in our valley since the 19th century.
So what was the big deal when a large mining company called CEMEX was awarded two 10-year contracts in 1990 to mine aggregate sand and gravel on a location in Soledad Canyon that has been mined since the 1950’s. After all, there was already a well established Santa Clarita family-owned mining company already doing the same thing?
Curtis Sand and Gravel had been mining the area of Soledad Canyon on the east side of the Valley since the late 1960’s. Their extracts equaled 300,000 to 450,000 tons of material per year from the Santa Clara riverbed. It was a relatively small operation in comparison, with traffic and pollution at tolerable levels to the surrounding areas and neighborhoods.
The CEMEX operation, if implemented, would expand the aggregate mining by a factor of ten, extracting 78 million tons of material over 20 years. Local residents would have been impacted with excavation activities going on for 17 hours a day, 6 days per week, with shipping activities projected to go round the clock. The impact on traffic, noise, and pollution not only from an added number of vehicles on the road, but from dust and mining residue could have impacted our city’s quality of life.
A 16 Year Fight
The City of Santa Clarita has been fighting this contract since the late 1990’s, with back and forth arguments, rounds in court, and a potential deal for the Bureau of Land Management to swap out the Soledad Mine for another property quashed by one senate vote. Finally, on Friday, August 28th, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management officially terminated the two 10 year contracts with CEMEX citing non-performance on their part.
Quality of Life Preserved
Had CEMEX begun its mining operation, residents on the east side of the Valley in the communities of Canyon Country and Sand Canyon would have definitely been impacted with more traffic, noise, and potential pollution. Not to mention the potential loss in property values from such conditions that would have existed with a 17 hour per day mining operation.