Sand Mining in California's Central Coast Region
- 1 Summary
- 2 CEMEX Settlement Agreement
- 3 Location
- 4 Systems and Processes
- 5 Laws, policies, & regulations
- 6 Resources At Stake
- 7 Stakeholders
- 8 Research
- 9 Tools
- 10 Future research
- 11 CEMEX In The News
- 12 References
- 13 Links
- 14 Disclaimer
Southern Monterey Bay Region in the central coast of California was the most intensively mined shoreline in the United States from 1906-1990.  The majority of sand mines were closed in 1990 due to assumptions that mining increased coastal erosion. The CEMEX Lapis Plant, located in the town of Marina, Monterey County, is the only sand mine in all of California that continues to operate. Best estimates suggest that the CEMEX plant mines nearly 300,000 tons of sand annually.  In 2016, the California Coastal Commission notified CEMEX of its intent to commence a cease and desist order for violations of the California Coastal Act. On 13 July 2017, The California Coastal Commission and CEMEX settled that Cemex will shut down operations by 31 December 2020 and avoid litigation. . The agreement will end a more than century long era of sand mining in the Monterey Bay.
CEMEX Settlement Agreement
- Mar 17, 2016 - The California Coastal Commission commences proceedings to issue a Cease and Desist Order and a Restoration Order for the imposition of administrative civil penalties and to resolve the violations of the Coastal Act resulting from unpermitted development that has and continues to occur on the CEMEX property. Unpermitted activities at CEMEX include dredging and extraction of sand, placement of floating dredges and development associated with the dredges (installation of anchors, cables, pipes, and pump station(s), grading, and changes in the intensity of use of the mine. 
The only sand mining plant currently operating in California's Central Coast region, and the United States, is located in the City of Marina, Monterey County, California. The CEMEX Lapis Plant is located eight miles north of Monterey, California along Highway 1 and within the Lower Salinas River Watershed. 
Systems and Processes
Sand is a valuable part of the coastal land and dune ecosystem and is not a renewable resource.  The Monterey Bay tidal system moves sand along the shore, therefore sand removed from one location impacts the entire shoreline. Sand in the CEMEX Pond, a 1,000 square feet depression or "sink" in the shoreline, comes from the littoral sand supply of the Southern Monterey Bay (SMB) Littoral Cell. Every year, the ponds fill with sand carried by winter waves or wind. Sand mined from the Pond is removed directly from the cell and the cycle repeats. CEMEX mines an estimated 200,000 cubic yards of sand per year  and between 1986 to 2013, CEMEX mined more than 6.8 million cubic yards (8.4 million tons) of sand that will never return to the coastal system. Sand mining is one of two major regional activities that have changed sand supplies into the SMB Littoral Cell. Historically, the Salinas River contributes sand to the cell however, dams on the Salinas River and movement of the river mouth have reduced the amount of sand brought into the SMB Littoral Cell.  The amount of sand removed by CEMEX vastly exceeds the amount of coarse-grained added into the cell from the Salinas River. Furthermore, CEMEX mines sand that originates from the Salinas River.
A general argument is that mining diminishes sand deposits on beaches and accelerates coastal erosion. Sand mining in coastal dune systems can lead to long term erosion of approximately 0.5 to 1.5 meters per year.  The southern Monterey shoreline on average is the most erosive shoreline in California .
Erosion Rates in Southern Monterey Bay:
Monterey: 1 ft / year
Seaside: 3 ft/year
Marina: 6 ft/ year
Should mining from the CEMEX Pond stop, reductions in erosion and dune retreat are expected as more sand would be contributed to the littoral cell and move down the coast. <ref="memo"/>
Laws, policies, & regulations
- Local Coastal Program Permit - from the City of Marina
- Coastal Development Permit
- California Coastal Act
CEMEX claims that because its operation precedes the California Coastal Act of 1976, it had vested rights to continue mining sand without acquiring further permits.  However, the Coastal Commission found that the illegal dredge pond on site and an increase in extraction activity overstep the bounds of the vested rights. . According to a 2017 memo by the California Coastal Commission,  mining sand from the beach at Marina conflicts with the Coastal Act in the following ways:
- Impacts on the local sand supply, in conflict with Section 30235.
- Habitat degradation and landform alternation, in conflict with Section 30231, 30240, and 30251.
- Visual intrusion to the beach environment, in conflict with Section 30251.
- Degradation of sand dunes creates a barrier to beach access, in conflict with Section 30211.
The agreement for the closure of the plant has several conditions for the future of the property, including a restricted deed so that the land must be purchased primarily for conservation purposes and will include public access. 
Resources At Stake
Excavation of approximately 200,000 tons of sand each year can impact the following resources along the Monterey Bay shoreline:
- A valuable resource that is used to make glass, computer chips, in cement to build houses and roads, and more. 
- Provides protection from extreme conditions (i.e. flood, large storms, sea level rise)
- Water supply
- Sand mining can extend so deeply that it affects ground water, springs, underground wells through lowering of the water table. 
- Species Biodiversity
- Sub-tidal Habitat (Rocky Reef, Kelp forests, eelgrass beds)
- Coastal/Sandy Beach habitat
- Dune Habitat
- Public access of beaches and dunes for recreational use.
- Existing Coastal Development (hotels, condos, etc.)
- Highways & Bridges
- Special Status Plants known to occur on the CEMEX property - sandmat manzanita (Arctostaphylos pumila), Monterey spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens), sand-loving wallflower (Erysimum ammophilum), Menzies' wallflower (Erysimum menziesii), Monterey gilia (Gilia tenuiflora ssp. arenaria). 
- Special Status Animals known to occur on the CEMEX property - black legless lizard (Anniella pulchra nigra), western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrines nivosus), Smith's blue butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi), bank swallow (Riparia riparia). 
- In December 2014, CalAm began work on a test slant intake well located at the CEMEX sand mining facility in North Marina. Due to the presence of threatened Western Snowy Plover breeding grounds near the test slant well, the location had to be returned to its original conditions by February 28, 2015.
Various private and public organizations have interests in sand mining. Some of these are:
- CEMEX - Mexico-based, global building materials company which owns the CEMEX Lapis Plant in Marina, CA. 
- California Coastal Commission
- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
- Coastal Sediment Management Workgroup - A collaborative effort chaired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Natural Resources Agency
- The Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter
- Save Our Shores
- Coastal Care Nonprofit
- Sierra Club Ventana Chapter
Coastal Retreat in California's Central Coast Region, specifically Southern Monterey Bay, has the fastest rate of erosion in California. Since the retreat is occuring in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, scientists are determined to find possible mitigation efforts, reasons for high rates, and, specific hot spots.
Recent research includes:
- Thorton et al. (2006) looked at sand mining impacts on long-term dune erosion in southern Monterey Bay 
- Storlazzi and Field (2000) studied sediment distribution and transport along the Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay 
- Coastal Regional Sediment Management Plan For Southern Monterey Bay prepared by Williams et al. (2008). 
- Hapke et al. (2006) wrote the National Assessment of Shoreline Change Part 3: Historical Shoreline Change and Associated Coastal Land Loss Along Sandy Shorelines of the California Coast 
There are a variety of tools that can be used to assess the effects of sand mining and/or coastal retreat.
- ArcGIS and the Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) toolbox can be used to monitor changes in beach width.
- Stereo Photogrammetry 
- LIDAR Measurements 
- GPS Surveys 
- Historical aerial photography
The Coastal Regional Sediment Management Plan for Southern Monterey Bay lists potential ways to address the issue of coastal erosion.
Continued study of beach erosion rates in the Southern Monterey Bay after the shutdown of the CEMEX plant will help confirm the impacts of sand mining. CSUMB is planning to continue erosion studies at the site.
CEMEX In The News
- Thornton et al. 2006. Sand Mining Impacts on Long-term Dune Erosion in Southern Monterey Bay. Marine Geology 229.1:45-58.
- California Coastal Commission. 2017. CCC-17-CD-02 (CEMEX).
- [https://law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/th22-7-2017-appendices.pdf California Coastal Comission. 2017. CONSENT SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND CEASE AND DESIST ORDER CCC-17-CD-02. State of California Natural Resources Agency.]
- Notification of Intent to Commence Cease and Desist Order and Restoration Order Proceedings and Administrative Civil Penalties Proceedings https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2017/7/th22/th22-7-2017-exhibits.pdf
- CEMEX Lapis Plant
- Sierra Club - Beach Erosion caused by CEMEX sand mining in Marina
- Coastal Processes affecting the Southern Monterey Bay (SMB) Littoral Cell With focus on the CEMEX Mine at Marina, CA https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2017/7/th22/th22-7-2017-exhibits.pdf
- Hapke CJ et al. 2006. USGS. National Assessment of Shoreline Change Part 3: Historical Shoreline Change and Associated Coastal Land Loss Along Sandy Shorelines of the California Coast
- California Coastal Erosion Response to Sea Level Rise
- [http://www.ci.marina.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/6989 City of Marina.2017. Request for Proposals. Local Coastal Plan Update Preparation of Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Assessment, and Adaptation Planning.]
- Sand Wars Movie Website
- Environmental Impacts
- CEMEX: Ecological Resources https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2017/7/th22/th22-7-2017-exhibits.pdf
- In brief: Test slant well intake for Monterey Peninsula project now underway
- MPWSP Temporary Slant Test Well, Project Description
- CEMEX Website About Us Page
- Storlazzi, CD and Field, ME. 2000. Sediment distribution and transport along a rocky, embayed coast: Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay, California. Marine Geology 170.3: 289-316.]
- Coastal Regional Sediment Management Plan For Southern Monterey Bay
- Coastal Retreat in California's Central Coast Region
- California Coastal Commission
- Local Coastal Programs in California's Central Coast Region
This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.