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April 20, 2014

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Rock-mine proposal draws opposition

Nearby residents slate meeting in Anthem tonight to plan their fight

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mona shield payne / special to the sun

Susan Gigandet signs a petition in December in opposition to a proposal to mine rock on 640 acres off Las Vegas Boulevard South. The mine would be close to residential communities including Sun City Anthem and Southern Highlands. A residents meeting is planned for tonight at Anthem Country Club.

Two mining companies are seeking approval from the Bureau of Land Management to start a 640-acre rock-excavation operation off Las Vegas Boulevard South, agitating Henderson residents concerned about dust and noise.

Mexico-based Cemex, the world’s third largest cement company, and California-based Service Rock Products say they want to lease the land from the BLM, which owns it, and operate the mining and rock-crushing facility 24 hours a day, every day, for at least 20 years.

Drumming up opposition to the project is Donna Dickey, a 65-year-old retiree who lives four miles away in Sun City Anthem.

She and others will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Independence Center's Freedom Hall, 2460 Hampton Road in Henderson, to discuss ways to stop the project.

They’ll have to do it without any help from Henderson City Hall.

City Councilman Andy Hafen, whose ward encircles the site, said the city made a deal with the Bureau of Land Management in July 2001: The city would not object to rock mining on the 640-acre BLM parcel in exchange for the BLM’s promise not to allow rock mining in the hills of Anthem.

Without such a deal, Dickey and her neighbors might be living a lot closer to rock mining than they fear they will be.

Hafen said he would attend tonight’s meeting and said he encourages residents to take up the fight.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak has also raised concerns over potential health effects of dust coming from the site and the 500 semi truck trips to and from the site each day.

The mining site is in unincorporated Clark County, surrounded by 3,500 acres of land that Henderson annexed in December 2006 to expand the city’s boundaries and promote growth and a gaming resort corridor. The annexed stretch of land runs 10 miles along Las Vegas Boulevard South, from St. Rose Parkway.

The rock-mining proposal, known as the Sloan Hills Mineral Project, could be derailed as the BLM evaluates the environmental effects of the project. The BLM will open the door later this year for public comments to shape rules and guidelines to mitigate environmental concerns.

Among the more obvious concerns are the effects the mining would have on air quality, views, traffic, noise, light and ground vibration, BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said.

Dickey promises to weigh in at that time.

“We want to stop the process before it gets started,” she said, while poring over stacks of paperwork and maps of the area, spread across her kitchen counter.

Over its lifetime the proposed mining operation would pull out 100 million tons of minerals, mostly limestone and dolomite, from the earth to be used as construction aggregate in Southern Nevada. Similar pits are operated near Lone Mountain, Pahrump, the Las Vegas Speedway and Mesquite.

The Henderson operation would begin as two pits, which would eventually merge as one 2,500-foot-deep pit, according to planning documents. The companies hope to begin operation in 2011 — if the project is approved and they are the high bidders to win the mining rights. If the project survives environmental scrutiny, the BLM is required to put the project out to bid, and it is possible companies other than Cemex and Service Rock Products would win control of the site.

The site is one mile from the planned residential development in Inspirada, where construction has stalled because of the recession, less than four miles from Southern Highlands and about five miles from the Seven Hills and Silverado Ranch communities.

The operation would include, according to BLM documents, a processing plant, stockpiles, office buildings, fuel storage, a quality control laboratory and storage.

“It raises a lot of concern about noise and dust,” Dickey said. “It can have a real impact on the quality of life all over the area.”

An asphalt plant has been removed from consideration.

This story was amended to give the correct time and location of the neighborhood meeting.

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