California threatens to close Cemex coastal sand operation

By |  May 16, 2017

According to The Mercury News, the state of California is ordering Cemex to obtain permits and pay state royalties for its Monterey County sand operation – or be shut down.

This, says the report, comes amid many complaints that the producer its causing significant erosion of beaches along Monterey Bay. The Cemex Lapis plant has been in operation since 1906 and is located between Marina and Moss Landing. It produces about 200,000 to 300,000 cu. yd. of sand annually.

The Mercury News article says the State Lands Commission, an agency that regulates offshore oil drilling in state waters and submerged tidal lands, sent a letter to company officials demanding it obtain a lease from the commission and begin paying royalties to avoid closure.

“Stealing public resources for private profit without a lease is a violation of the state constitution,” says Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, chairman of the State Lands Commission. He is quoted in the report: “This mine is a relic of an era that California and the nation rejected a long time ago, and it is past time that Cemex engage in a dialogue on the future of operations.”

Walker Robinson, a Cemex spokesman at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Houston, says the company hadn’t had the opportunity to fully review the commission’s action.

Scientists and environmental groups say the facility is causing significant erosion of beaches.

“If you take that much sand directly off the beach every year, the waves keep breaking,” says Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC-Santa Cruz. “The southern end of the bay is eroding at a much faster rate than it would naturally.”

According to the report, the state says: If Cemex does not apply for a state lease, conduct environmental studies and pay royalties, it could face civil liability and damages.

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Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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