Sand, gravel could run short

first_img“It would cost more if we had to haul the material in from miles away as opposed to having an aggregate source nearby there in Santa Clarita,” he said. The report issued Thursday by the state Department of Conservation is intended to help municipalities better plan for growth. It includes a map dividing the state into 31 regions where the material is mined and used for building. Aggregate produced in a quadrant is usually sold within the same area. Cemex earlier said material from the mine would be destined for greater Los Angeles. Though house sales are slumping, homebuilding costs remain constant. Houses usually sit on concrete slab foundations, have concrete driveways, and some have swimming pools. Two-story homes may require additional concrete supports. About 200 tons of aggregate is needed to build the average home. Building the 21,000 homes planned in Newhall Ranch, a master planned community just east of Valencia, may require roughly 4.2 million tons of aggregate. If Cemex does not resume the project in a few years and local suppliers cannot meet the demand for the material, the price of houses would rise proportionately to the hauling distance. On Tuesday, Cemex officials said they’ve called off plans to open the mine next year and want to negotiate a compromise instead. The city had spent roughly $8 million on a campaign to scale down the mine to historical levels of 300,000 tons a year or get it barred from the area between Canyon Country and Agua Dulce. Opponents claimed the mine would pollute the region’s air and increase heavy truck traffic on local highways. The compromise might hinge on federal legislation introduced this year, modeled on a measure introduced by Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon that failed in 2006. In the Los Angeles-Orange County-San Gabriel area, only about one-third of the material required over the next 50 years has been permitted for mining and it takes five to seven years to obtain permits. “The area will fall 66 percent short over the next 50 years unless additional permitting or additional resources are found,” Parrish said. In the next five decades, California will need 131/2 billion tons of aggregate and only 4.3 billion tons are permitted – roughly a 13-year supply. Parrish said the state’s behind the curve because the numbers are based on current rates of use and don’t encompass unforseen circumstances. “It doesn’t take into account accelerated construction programs as a result of major bond initiatives or from construction following a major damaging earthquake.” Several large construction companies declined to comment, but one local builder wonders if the city’s taken on a NIMBY attitude – not in my back yard. “Is Soledad Canyon the center point for the distribution of (aggregate)?” said Randal Winter, of Randal Winter Construction Inc. in Newhall. “If it is the logical center point for the resource with a minimal amount of travel to the end users … (causing) less pollution and trucks on the road, just because we don’t want it doesn’t mean it isn’t right.” However, Winter, who serves on the Newhall Redevelopment Committee and the West Ranch Town Council said he’s glad the eight-year battle, which cost the city some $8 million, has resulted in a compromise. [email protected] (661) 257-5255 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – Folks in City Hall are thrilled Cemex won’t open its proposed Soledad Canyon mine in 2008, but the move could prove costly for California taxpayers and consumers in the coming years. The city of Santa Clarita has spent $8 million fighting the planned gravel mine, saying it would result in heavy truck traffic and unhealthful air quality. The two sides have declared a truce while they seek a compromise. Meanwhile a report issued last week by the state shows long-term demand for sand and gravel – a key ingredient in cement and asphalt products used in construction – will far outweigh the supply. The 56.1 millions tons of aggregate Cemex is permitted to mine in the canyon over 20 years was included in the projection. “If Cemex’s 56 million tons is not going to be mined, the area will have less than 7 percent of the aggregate it will need,” said John Parrish, the state geologist and former executive officer of the state mining and geology board. “That means, that 93 percent of its projected aggregate usage will have to be imported from surrounding areas.” These include the San Gabriel Valley, Claremont and Upland. Building costs rise when the material must be trucked from afar because it’s expensive to transport. “You can fly an ounce of gold from California to New York without really changing the value of that ounce of gold,” Parrish said. “But a ton of aggregate may double in cost for every 30 miles of transportation. Building one mile of six-lane interstate highway requires about 113,500 tons of aggregate. Transporting that tonnage 30 miles adds $510,000 to the base cost of the material at the mine, Parrish said. Caltrans consumes only about 10 percent of the total aggregate used throughout California, so its projects don’t have a significant impact on aggregate resources, David Anderson, a spokesman for the agency, said via e-mail. However, cost is another matter. last_img

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