The Mineral Resource Industry Has Positive Impact on California Economy

Written by Alyssa Burley.
Last updated April 14, 2014 7:16 AM PST

Oppose SB 1270 to Protect Jobs and the Resources Essential for California’s Infrastructure

California’s mineral resource industry is being threatened by the recent introduction of Senate Bill 1270 (Pavley). This proposed legislation will radically alter the balance between mineral resource production and regulatory oversight.

The mineral resource industry, such as construction aggregate, in California is essential to the State’s economy. It provides the materials needed to build and maintain roads, bridges, homes and commercial buildings, as well as provide jobs for thousands of Californians.

Construction aggregates are integral in the daily lives of average Californians. The annual per capita consumption of construction aggregate in California is 5.7 tons. That is every man, woman and child consumes 5.7 tons of aggregate annually. Construction aggregate is a high-bulk, low-value commodity which requires the material to be obtained locally to ensure costs remain economical. However, the State is experiencing a shortage of locally permitted sources, which results in materials having to be shipped from greater distances at an additional cost to the consumer. Locally sourced construction aggregate lowers costs, and ensures the State benefits economically from its natural resources.

The mineral resource industry creates value for the State. It is estimated to be worth $2.9 billion, according to a 2011 report published on the Department of Conservation website. Construction aggregates (i.e., sand, gravel and crushed stone) make up 30.5% of the State’s mineral resource production. The remaining 69.5% of mineral resource production comes from boron minerals, cement, clays, gemstones, gold, silver and dimension stone. This means a significant portion of the mineral resource industry directly impacts transportation, infrastructure and building development.

For every job in the mineral resource industry, three additional support jobs are created throughout the economy.

Not only does the industry create thousands of jobs for Californians, more importantly it creates jobs with wages higher than the state average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average California mineral resource industry worker makes about $57,000 per year. That is 9.6% more than the state average of $52,000 per year. The mineral resource industry directly provides well-paying jobs for Californians.

While the mineral resource industry provides thousands of jobs at higher than average wages, it is not immune to the prolonged economic downturn experienced by the entire nation. Production is off by over 50% and mineral resource availability is falling below sustainable levels due to fewer permitted mining operations.

Unfortunately, the proposed SB 1270 will exacerbate the problem by revising the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA). The bill would negatively affect the entire mineral resource industry if it is passed. It eliminates local focus on land use and reclamation, creates confusion in regulatory compliance mandates, disproportionately affects small companies, and increases uncertainty throughout the industry.

If you feel the mineral resource industry is a valuable asset to California and want to protect it from over regulation, contact each of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water members and tell them how this bill will negatively affect your business.

The hearing for SB 1270 is set for April 22, 2014. All comment letters MUST be delivered by Tuesday, April 15th, 2014.
(Update 4/11/2014 10:41 AM PST: SB 1270 has been postponed and removed from the April 22, 2014 Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water agenda. A new date has not been scheduled.)
(Update 4/14/2014 7:16 AM PST: SB 1270 has been added to the April 29, 2014 Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water agenda.)

Review the changes to SMARA and our comments on SB 1270 here and submit your comment letters today.

Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Members and Contact Information (PDF)

Sample Letter from Operator (Word Document)

Sample Letter from Lead Agency (Word Document)

If you use a sample letter in its entirety, it should be faxed (not emailed) do to the character limitations on the Senators’ email forms.

Crystal Howard is an economist and market analyst for EnviroMINE, Inc.