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Cemex probe in Europe won't affect SCV issues

Posted: November 11, 2008 9:22 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2008 4:59 a.m.
 
An anti-trust investigation into Cemex SAB and a handful of other cement companies in Europe does not affect U.S. operations including a federal bill that would prevent a mine operation in Soledad Canyon, a company spokeswoman said.

"We're separate," said Jennifer Borgen, spokeswoman for Houston-based Cemex USA. "They were obviously looking into issues in Europe and we don't run the European operation."

On Nov. 4 and 5, European Union anti-trust regulators raided cement companies that allegedly formed an illegal cartel to hike prices for the building trade, the European Commission told the Associated Press.

Mexico-based Cemex SAB, one of the world's largest building materials companies, Holcim of Switzerland, France's Lafarge and Germany's HeidelbergCement and Dyckerhoff all confirmed that their European plants were among those raided.

Cemex USA operates autonomously, Borgen said.

"We're in 50 countries around the world," she said.

Cemex USA owns and operates 14 cement plants in the United States including one near Victorville.

Cemex enjoyed a 10-year presence in Santa Clarita Valley as a company poised to begin exploiting its mineral rights by mining near Highway 14.

Through the federal Bureau of Land Management it is authorized to mine up to five million tons of sand and gravel annually on 400 acres of land in Soledad Canyon.

The latest and only news affecting Santa Clarita is HR5887, the pending Cemex bill in Washington, D.C., Borgen said.

"Right now we're working with the city of Victorville, the city of Santa Clarita and with Congressman (Howard) ‘Buck' McKeon on an agreement," she said.

McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, promised to re-introduce his Cemex bill as "one of the first things" he does in the new Congress.

The city of Santa Clarita spent more than $8 million fighting Cemex. City officials claim the mining plans would contribute to air pollution and highway traffic.

Last April, McKeon quelled the argument when he introduced HR5887, known as the Soledad Canyon Mine Act, which calls on the Secretary of the Interior to cancel BLM mineral contracts that permit mining in and near Santa Clarita, and to stop further mining in the area.

It also calls for Transit Mixed Concrete Corp. to receive, as compensation for cancellation of the contracts, its fair-market value and the company's expenditures and covered liabilities in trying to bring the contracts into commercial production.

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