Lt. Governor Newsom Supports Terms to Close America's Last Coastal Sand Mine

6-27-17

Proposed terms would see beach dredging operations capped and shut down in three years, and property sold for conservation

SACRAMENTO - California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Chair of the State Lands Commission, welcomed the terms of a proposal that would shut down the nation's last coastal sand mining operation in three years, and cap its dredging operations in the interim. The CEMEX Lapis sand mine in Marina, California is the last remaining coastal sand mining operation in the United States and scientists conclude that the operation is responsible for the rapid erosion and disappearance of public beaches along the Monterey County coast.

"The proposal ends the nation's last coastal sand mining operation, a milestone that is both significant and symbolic of the value California attaches to its environmental heritage, and its commitment to a sustainable future economy," said Lt. Governor Newsom, who helped guide the negotiations. "The terms offer a much faster resolution and termination of the beach-dredging operations than the alternative of protracted litigation and court hearings with uncertain outcomes. I'm grateful to staff at the Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission for their partnership and resolute stance, which have delivered a good result for Monterey County's environment and economy."

The proposed terms between the State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission and private mining company CEMEX - backed by the City of Marina - would end beach dredging operations in three years, with a cap on annual sand extraction at 240,000 tons. At capacity, current operations are believed to be capable of mining on average at 300,000 tons per annum according to a 2016 study. CEMEX would be granted an additional three years to wind-down, process and restore its separate inland operations and infrastructure at Lapis, consistent with the plant's Reclamation Plan. The terms would steer CEMEX to sell the full 400-acre site at a less-than-market price and to an entity committed to holding the property for conservation.

The twelve appointed members of the Coastal Commission are set to consider and vote on the proposal in July 2017. If approved, the terms would then be considered and voted on by the State Lands Commission in August 2017, setting the clock for CEMEX to cease the beach operation by December 31, 2020.

The Lapis sand mine extracts sand through an artificial dredge pond on land adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. However, scientific research in the past decade has clarified that sand mined at the Lapis plant is replenished by public-owned minerals from public trust lands, which becomes trapped in the dredge pond. The high recreational value of Southern Monterey Bay beaches, estimated at over $13 million annually, is threatened by beach erosion, which is exacerbated by the sand mine.

In May 2017, the California State Lands Commission issued a notice ordering CEMEX to comply with state law or cease its sand mining operations at the Lapis plant. In an accompanying statement, Lt. Governor Newsom invited the company "to engage in a dialogue on the future of operations."

Photographs illustrating the operations can be found below.

Credit: Gary Griggs Ph.D, UC Santa Cruz

Credit: Rob Weyland

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