Australian phosphate importer refuses to trade responsibly

Australian phosphate importer, Incitec Pivot, at its AGM on 19 December 2013, announced it had no plans to stop importing phosphate rock from Bou Craa mine in Western Sahara.

Unlike the two other Australian fertiliser firms, CSBP/Wesfarmers and Impact Fertilisers which have stopped using the conflict phosphate, Incitec Pivot continues “business as usual” saying it is not doing anything illegal, either in terms of UN embargos or in terms of Australian law.

The Australia Western Sahara Association and the Australian Unions for Western Sahara both spoke at the meeting and staged a protest outside, handing leaflets to the shareholders arriving for the meeting

In questions on the Annual Report, Ron Guy, for Australian Unions for Western Sahara, spoke of the declaration made in Abuja, Nigeria in October at the Trades Unions conference held in solidarity with the Saharawi people.  African unions called for a campaign of major sanctions against Morocco, on a par with those adopted against the Apartheid regime in South Affrica.  On this basis, within four years we could expect Morocco to be agreeing to a referendum, he said. He expressed the hope that Incitiec Pivot would not be trading with the wrong party, and end up suffering the fate of wood chipper, Gunns in Tasmania.

Cate Lewis, speaking for the Australia Western Sahara Association, pointed out to shareholders that the Swedish Ethical Council had recommended divestment from Incitec Pivot on account of its trade with Morocco in phosphate sourced in Western Sahara. The Ethical Council regards the trade as unethical and not consistent with responsible business practice. She asked the chairman how IPL could explain the different conclusions drawn by his company? The Saharawis she met during a visit to the occupied zone of Western Sahara in July, were very clear they did not consent to the exploitation of their natural resources by Morocco, she added.