Report: Fresno area aggregate supply slipping

Vulcan Materials Company's River Rock quarry is one of the largest aggregate mines in the Fresno regionVulcan Materials Company's River Rock quarry is one of the largest aggregate mines in the Fresno regionDespite several approved and extended rock mines in the last 10 years, Fresno County's current aggregate reserves are not expected to last very long, according to a recent report by the state Department of Conservation.

The raw material required to make ready-mix concrete, asphalt, road base and a wide variety of other building products, aggregate is still in short supply in the Valey, the latest California Geological Survey shows.

In the Fresno production-consumption (P-C) region, which includes both Fresno and Madera counties, there are 46 million tons of permitted aggregate reserves, less than 11 percent of the 50-year demand of 435 million tons.

Current mining operations in the region are estimated to have less than 10 years remaining to meet the projected demand in construction.

Only three other study areas listed in the survey have a similar short supply, with Sacramento County meeting only 6 percent of its 50-year demand and both the Western San Diego County P-C region and the San Fernando Valley/Saugus-Newhall region with 16 percent of its demand.

Northern Tulare County was shown to have a little more leeway with 27 million tons of permitted reserves. That represents 22 percent of the area's 50-year demand of 124 million tons, a supply of 11 to 20 years.

Southern Tulare County was even safer with a supply of 21 to 30 years, just less than 50 percent of its demand of 73 million tons of aggregate.

Statewide, there are more than 4 billion tons of permitted aggregate reserves, meeting 34 percent of the 50-year demand.

The latest report is an update from the 2006 California Geological Survey that showed the Fresno P-C region having barely more than 11 percent of reserves to meet the 50-year demand of 629 million tons of aggregate.

At the time, Northern Tulare County had reserves to meet less than half of its demand of 205 million tons.

Last October, Fresno County Supervisors approved the 886-acre aggregate Carmelita mine near Sanger.

Situated amidst the stone fruit orchards of Gerawan Farms, the operation aims to mine around 1.25 million tons of aggregate each year over the next 100 years.

Fresno County was not as favorable to Mexican aggregate company Cemex, however, turning down its request for a 1.5-million-ton-a-year mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger last August following years of public outcry against the proposed project.

Other recent mines include the 2007 approval of a 440-acre expansion of a mine near Centerville along the Kings River operated by Vulcan Materials company.

In 2010, Calaveras Materials Inc. was approved for a 315-acre sand and gravel mine southeast of Sanger near the Kings River to produce around 1 million tons of aggregate a year.

Much of the aggregates needed in the Fresno area are produced in Coalinga out of mines operated by Granite Construction and Jaxon Enterprises, both of which are reaching the end of their supplies.