Another Canadian company starts importing from occupied Western Sahara

Agrium Inc, a Canadian agro-business, is expecting its first shipment of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara by the end of the month. The matter has attracted media attention in Canada,  stating that "it could be the first import of conflict minerals coming directly into Canada since the apartheid era in South Africa".
Published: 16.10 - 2013 16:16Printer version    
Photo: Neptune Bulk Terminals in Vancouver, where the first shipment of phosphate from occupied Western Sahara to Canada is to arrive on 24 October 2013.

On 24 October, the bulk carrier Ultra Bellambi is scheduled to arrive at Vancouver. On board of the freighter are 60.000 tonnes of phosphate rock from the Bou Craa mines in Western Sahara. The cargo is worth almost $10 million. That money however, will not end up with the Saharawi people of Western Sahara - the original and sole people of the territory - but with the Moroccan regime that has occupied large parts of their country since 1975.

The phosphate rock was purchased by Calgary based Agrium Inc, under the terms of an agreement it concluded earlier this year with Moroccan state owned company Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP). Agrium confirmed to Canadian newspaper The Tyee that it would import one million tonnes each year until 2020, and that part of the imports will be sourced in Western Sahara.

Western Sahara Resource Watch has contacted Agrium Inc in April this year, calling on the company to refrain from importing from the Bou Craa mines in Western Sahara through their contract with OCP.

Agrium responded that "on issues related to disputed territorial claims, Agrium looks to guidance from the Canadian and US governments before entering into any agreement which may be related to the territory. Agrium's agreement with OCP complies with the respective trade and customs laws of these jurisdictions."

WSRW has today sent another letter to the company, denouncing the imports and asking for disclosure of cited legal evaluations.

A UN Legal Opinion on exploitation of Western Sahara's natural resources is quite clear that such activity is illegal if not done in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the people of the territory - the Saharawi. The latter have unequivocally stated that they do not consent to Agrium's imports, through a letter by their political representation Frente Polisario to the company.

The Tyee quotes Peter Chapman, executive director of the shareholder advisory organization SHARE, "If it's not possible to purchase phosphate rock from Western Sahara in a manner that's consistent with international law, then that would be a concern to institutional investors, particularly those investors that believe that the rule of law is important to the long term health of capital markets."

The Swedish government pension funds announced late September that it had decided to exclude Canadian company PotashCorp for importing phosphate from Western Sahara. In 2010, the Norwegian Pension Fund also decided to divest from the company because they considered such imports "grossly unethical."


06.03 - 2018 / 06.03 - 2018Kosmos Energy maintains propaganda site after Western Sahara exit
02.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018What is HeidelbergCement doing in occupied Western Sahara?
01.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018Confirmed: Innophos key client of Western Sahara phosphate rock
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018South Africa stands up against the plunder of Western Sahara
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018Bermuda shipping company drops Western Sahara
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018EU and Morocco announce continued fisheries partnership
27.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018EU Parliament slams Commission on Western Sahara talks
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Polisario: open to negotiate Western Sahara deals with the EU
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Saharawi refugees celebrate EU Court victory
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018BREAKING: EU Court stops EU-Morocco fish deal in Western Sahara
23.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018SA Court confirms: Morocco has no ownership over Saharawi phoshates
23.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018EU Member States disagree over toxic fertilizers
21.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018Vigeo Eiris goes back on false claim
20.02 - 2018 / 20.02 - 2018EU Parliamentarians concerned over Commission's respect of rule of law
15.02 - 2018 / 15.02 - 2018Sweden to vote against new EU-Morocco fish talks
08.02 - 2018 / 08.02 - 2018Studies continue on Kosmos Energy's block
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Kosmos and Cairn have pulled out of Western Sahara
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Why WSRW refuses to take part in the EU's Western Sahara consultation
03.02 - 2018 / 03.02 - 2018Unison condemnation of the EU Commission from Western Sahara groups
02.02 - 2018 / 01.02 - 2018Siemens fails to respond Western Sahara question at AGM


Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy