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Article Date : 12/18/2009
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Cemex may trade mining contract for Victorville land (Posted Date :Saturday, May 3, 2008)
VICTORVILLE — Cemex cement company has agreed to trade a mining contract in Los Angeles County for up to 8,000 acres of federal land near Victorville, which will then be sold to the city.
The deal is dependent on legislation introduced to Congress late last week by U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.
McKeon’s proposal would cancel two 10-year mining contracts in Soledad Canyon that Cemex has with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In exchange, Cemex would be compensated with land near Victorville equal in value to the company’s investment in the canceled contracts.
“Congressman Buck McKeon has brokered a win-win agreement for all,” Councilman Mike Rothschild said. “The city of Victorville is pleased to participate in this agreement that protects community interests and provides for future economic development.”
Cemex and the city have an agreement separate from the legislation identifying about 5,000 acres of federal land near Victorville to be used in the deal, which cannot be used for mining. Another 3,000 acres in Victorville have also been earmarked, in case the contracts are found to be worth more than the first 5,000 acres.
City Manager Jon Roberts said some of the land is already within the city’s sphere of influence, near where Interstate 15 and the Mojave River split, in an area referred to as the Northern Triangle.
The city has already been in discussions with the BLM to purchase this land for several years, Roberts said. As part of the city’s general plan update, he said they are working to designate the area to be zoned with a specific plan, and that it would likely be primarily for residential and commercial use.
While the deal with Cemex should not affect the price, which will be sold at fair market value either way, he said purchasing it from Cemex rather than the BLM would make for an easier transaction.
“Generally, going through BLM land disposal procedures is rather arduous,” Roberts said. “This is attractive to us because it would be a more streamlined process.”
Cemex has a strong local presence already, with a cement plant in Victorville and a quarry in Apple Valley. The company produces nearly 100 million tons of cement each year and operates in 50 countries around the world.
If McKeon’s bill passes, it will end a battle that started in 1990, after Cemex bought the rights to mine the Soledad Canyon site from BLM through a public bidding process, according to Cemex spokeswoman Jennifer Borgen. The nearby city of Santa Clarita has been fighting the planned large-scale mine, citing environmental and quality of life concerns.
Once the BLM has transferred the land to Cemex, Roberts said the city expects to purchase the property very quickly.

By : Brooke Edwards of the Daily Press
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