The Mitsubishi Cement Corp. and its consultants anticipate a June release of the Final Environmental Impact Report of its South Quarry project, reported the Daily Press. Following its release, the San Bernardino County, Calif., board of supervisors and the U.S. Forest Service will consider approving the EIR, which has been in the works since 2009. If approved, Mitsubishi will submit the final document, most likely before the end of the year.
“The South Quarry application requests expansion of the limestone quarry resources for 120 years,” said David Rib, Mitsubishi Cement’s environmental manager. “Without that expansion [Mitsubishi Cement’s] Cushenbury Plant would need to bring in limestone from other sources, with a drastic increase in truck deliveries to an already busy roadway,” he added.
Several local organizations and local leaders have lent their support to the South Quarry project.
“The Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association strongly supports the South Quarry project,” association president Chuck Bell wrote in a letter of support for the project. “Mitsubishi Cement is an important employer in the region and a huge benefactor to the community. The South Quarry project will help Mitsubishi realize the economic value from its investment in its existing Cushenbury mine and cement plant and the surrounding limestone resources. The proposal for Mitsubishi to continue its mining operations for 120 years shows Mitsubishi’s commitment to invest its resources in the area for the long term.”
Bell warns that not approving the project could have dire consequences for the region, especially Lucerne Valley.
“If Mitsubishi does not receive approval for the project for that duration, it may have to ship limestone in from other sources to its cement plant,” he wrote. “That would lead to undesirable impacts from the large trucks that would pass through Lucerne Valley to deliver limestone to Mitsubishi’s cement plant. This project does not increase the amount of cement produced or truck traffic through our community on a daily basis, only extending the long-term availability of its limestone resource, which is critical for Mitsubishi Cement and Lucerne Valley.”
Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) also sent a letter of support, citing Mitsubishi’s mitigating measures for any environmental issues and that the cement plant “is a major job creator in my district.”
Throughout the EIR process, Mitsubishi has sought to demonstrate how it will mitigate environmental related issues and concerns.
“The Environmental Report includes long lists of permit conditions to ensure the process is sustainable and minimizes any impacts,” Rib said. “With the long term of the requested project, many of these conditions are on-going programs under agency supervision so the activities may evolve with changing needs and developing science.”