Report reveals importers of Western Sahara phosphate
New WSRW report reveals importers of controversial Western Sahara phosphate in 2014
16 March 2015
Western Sahara Resource Watch
WSRW launches its overview report today containing all clients that have last year purchased phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. The report details all volumes, values and shipments relating to Morocco’s exports from the occupied territory during 2014.
The phosphate rock is illegally exploited by the Moroccan government in Western Sahara, a territory that it brutally invaded and annexed in 1975. To date, the sales are Morocco’s main source of revenues in the occupied territory. The Saharawi people have consistently spoken out against the trade.
Through tracking and analyzing all ship traffic in the port of El Aaiun, occupied Western Sahara, WSRW is able to present a complete list of shipments of phosphate from the territory for calendar year 2014. The organization attributes the purchases to nine identified and one unknown importers in nine countries around the globe. Between the two of them, the companies Agrium Inc (Canada) and Lifosa AB (Lithuania) accounted for 58 percent of all purchases from Western Sahara.
New Zealand is the third biggest importer with two companies involved: Balance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown. This is why the report is being launched in Wellington, New Zealand today :
The report can be downloaded here:
The report puts the total exported volume in 2014 at 2,1 million tonnes, corresponding to an estimated value of US $230 million, shipped in 44 bulk vessels. In 2014, Morocco commenced exploiting the second layer of Western Sahara's phosphate deposits, as the first layer - which was of much higher quality and value - has practically been sold off completely.
WSRW also highlights the law firms that are working to defend Morocco's exploitation of Western Sahara's phosphate mine. These law firms - Covington & Burling, DLA Piper and Palacio y Asociados - have produced legal opinions which allegedly state that Morocco's activities are perfectly lawful as they are to the benefit of the Saharawis. Though these opinions have been circulated to importers and their investors, they are kept from the Saharawis.
Of the nine identified importing companies in 2014, five are listed on international stock exchanges or are majority owned by enterprises which are listed. All have been subject to blacklisting by ethically concerned investors due to this trade.
"We urge all importers to immediately halt their involvement", stated Sara Eyckmans, coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
"Such trade is deeply unethical, as it directly undermines the UN peace efforts. It is taking place in violation of the Saharawi people's legitimate right to manage their own resources. The Saharawis have a right to self-determination over their land and resources, and both Morocco and the involved companies don't seem to care at all", Eyckmans stated.
Of the remaining four companies that are not registered on any stock exchange, two are farmer owned cooperatives in New Zealand, while the two remaining are fully or partially owned by the Government of Venezuela.
The story was also covered on Bloomberg this week-end: