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America’s last coastal sand mine given ultimatum on California beach operation

A press release from Lt. Governor Newsom:
May 16, 2017
Ultimatum given to America’s last coastal sand mine operating on California beach
State Lands Commission presents case that private mine is profiting from environmental plunder

(SACRAMENTO) – The California State Lands Commission issued a notice today ordering the foreign-owned corporation CEMEX to comply with state law or cease its sand mining operations in Marina, California. The CEMEX Lapis sand mine 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.

Stealing public resources for private profit without a lease is a violation of the state constitution and statute,” said Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who chairs the State Lands Commission. “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.

Today’s letter is the culmination of extensive staff research on this issue including consultation with experts, review of scientific literature, and site visits,” said State Controller and Commissioner Betty T. Yee. “The Commission’s lease application review process will properly analyze the effects of CEMEX’s sand mining to recreation, the local economy, and to the state’s public trust resources.”

The CEMEX 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 become trapped in the dredge pond during high tides and storm events. CEMEX has not obtained a lease for these sovereign resources nor paid a royalty for using this Public Trust resource.

Analysis concludes that the Lapis operation extracts the equivalent of a full dump-truck of sand every 26 minutes, or 200,000 cubic yards of sand annually, and the Southern Monterey Bay shore is on average the most erosive sandy shore in California. 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.

Today’s letter issued by the State Lands Commission outlines the case against CEMEX’s unauthorized operation, including a claim for civil liability and treble damages. When a lease application is submitted, the Commission will analyze whether the activity is consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine and may require environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act as part of the lease application review.

The California State Lands Commission letter can be viewed at

A photograph illustrating the operations can be found at:



Office of the Lt. Governor:

Office of the State Controller:

Scientific Opinion: 

Gary Griggs Ph.D, UC Santa Cruz: