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Vulcan confirms seizure of Mexican facility; Britt calls on Biden to intervene

Vulcan Materials on Monday confirmed the apparent breach and seizure of its quarry and shipping facility by Mexican police and military forces, calling it “reckless and reprehensible.”

Over the weekend, surveillance video footage surfaced of Mexican police forcing their way through a security gate at Vulcan’s Punta Venado port facility in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Vulcan, a major producer of gravel and rock materials based in Birmingham, has been fighting in the courts to keep its facility open as the Mexican government has sought to annex the property for shipping and tourism purposes.

Vulcan confirmed the authenticity of the video in an email to Alabama Daily News Monday.

“Our first and foremost concern is the health and safety of our employees. We have confirmed that our Vulcan family members are physically unharmed and are focused on ensuring that this remains the case,” the company wrote in an email. “We are highly concerned for our property and our business in Mexico. We have been unable to quarry and ship construction aggregate since the Mexican government illegally shut down our operations last year.

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt called the action “unlawful and unacceptable” in a statement Sunday night, calling on President Joe Biden to intervene.

According to an email from Vulcan officials to members of Alabama’s Congressional delegation obtained by Alabama Daily News, the breach and seizure began at 5:44 local time on March 14 and involved “heavily armed Naval forces, state police, and special investigative forces.”

The situation stems from a dispute between Vulcan and CEMEX, another construction materials company, over the use of Vulcan’s port. According to Vulcan officials, CEMEX’s lease granting them access to the port ended on December 31, 2022.

“For over 20 years, Vulcan’s Mexican subsidiary leased land to and provided offloading and handling services for CEMEX at Vulcan’s Punta Venado port facility near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo,” the email reads. “During the summer, Vulcan sought to open discussions to renegotiate inherited contracts between CEMEX and businesses acquired by Vulcan (US Concrete and Aggregates USA) and proposed a global resolution to both the U.S. contracts and the services agreement and lease in Mexico.”

That led to a lawsuit and, according to Reuters, threats from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Orbador that Vulcan had until March to settle and allow the tourism project to proceed.

“We expect that CEMEX will seek to occupy the property, with military and police support, for an unspecified period as cement is offloaded into the storage dome, and then distributed to customers,” the Vulcan email to Congress said.

According to her office, Britt in February traveled to Mexico City and discussed the Vulcan issue with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard. She said she now wants President Biden to get involved.

“President Biden must raise this directly with President López Obrador and assure the American people that this will not be tolerated,” Britt said in the statement. “The ramifications of this illicit seizure extend into the United States, significantly hamstringing important American infrastructure, energy, and other construction projects that currently rely on Vulcan’s operations in Mexico for materials.”


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