AWSA slams Incitec Pivot for stolen phosphate from occupied Western Sahara

AWSA today condemned Incitec Pivot for their latest import of phosphate rock, due on Sunday from Western Sahara, saying Pivot should stop the trade with Morocco in what is essentially stolen property, as other Australian fertiliser companies (CSBP/Wesfarmers and Impact) have done.

A shipment of conflict phosphate is due to arrive in Portland on 16 March on board the bulk carrier, Eurosun. The ship will discharge only part of its cargo of phosphate rock in Portland and the rest in Geelong on 20 March.

“Our difficulty with this phosphate from Bou Craa mine in Western Sahara is that it is sold by the Moroccan state company OCP although it belongs to the indigenous people of the area known as Saharawis,” said Cate Lewis of the Australia Western Sahara Association. Morocco invaded and has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975 although no country in the world recognises its attempted annexation of this territory.

The Saharawi people demonstrate against the plunder of their natural resources and their government in exile has protested to the Australian importer, Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL):

“The Saharawi government demands either the return of the phosphate to Western Sahara or the transfer of its value to the SADR authorities. It has been illegally mined and exported in violation of international humanitarian law and the law which accords non-self governing peoples the right of sovereignty to their resources.”

The letter outlines three ways in which the trade affects the Saharawi people:

1 It depletes a limited natural resource that rightfully belongs to the Saharawi people

2 It entrenches Morocco’s illegal occupation

3 It undermines the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

It concludes “Trading in a natural resource from a territory under an illegal, armed occupation is assistance in a war crime: the war crime of pillage.”

AWSA calls on Incitec Pivot to follow the lead of the other Australian fertiliser companies in discontinuing imports of this Western Sahara phosphate sold by Morocco.