Agrium looks to other sources than Western Sahara

The biggest purchaser of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara has said its purchase agreement is only a temporary solution, and that it hopes to find phosphate rock elsewhere.
Published: 11.04 - 2017 19:05Printer version    
"This supply agreement was always viewed as an interim arrangement while we looked at other alternate sources of rock and also longer term arrangements which may include internal ones", Agrium's Vice President, Investor/Corporate Relations and Market Research, Mr. Richard Downey, wrote in a letter to Western Sahara Resource Watch 30 March 2017.

Later this month, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) will launch its annual report on global phosphate purchases from the territory, analyzing the data of the 2016 bulk vessel ship traffic.

The report will show that Agrium - again - is the most important purchaser of such controversial rock. The rock is exported by the Moroccan state owned phosphate company OCP, against the wishes of the people of the territory.

"Agrium entered into a phosphate rock supply agreement with OCP when our mine in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, reached the end of its economic life and with the longer-term view of keeping our processing facility at Redwater, Alberta, Canada operational", the company wrote to WSRW.

From what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands, the intention of purchasing Western Sahara rock as only an interim solution to its supply shortages, has been communicated to investors for a few years now.

A large number of investors in Europe have divested from Agrium's competitor PotashCorp. The reason this has not happened with Agrium is partially because the latter company has been able to convince its owners that it is looking for other sources. Only a dozen of the responsible investors with public exclusion lists have so far made clear they have blacklisted Agrium from their portfolios.

"The production of phosphate fertilizers from various rock sources provides a number of chemical and industrial challenges especially when considering the design and age of the processing facility. We continue on with this work, including in the context of our proposed merger with PCS that may provide an alternate source of phosphate rock for Redwater. However, as you know this merger is not final and still requires regulatory approvals in several jurisdictions along with meeting the terms of the merger agreement. Saying that, we are encouraged by our progress to date", Agrium wrote.

As the two companies will merge later this year, it is expected that investors will automatically implement the exclusion of PotashCorp onto the new, merged company. The Agrium statement did not elaborate on how the merged company would address the purchases of PotashCorp that is imported into Louisiana, USA.  

On 21 December 2016, the Court of Justice of the EU found the EU trade agreements with Morocco not to be applicable to the territory, and that the representatives of Western Sahara need to consent for trade to be legal. The trade deal also underlined the ability of the national liberation movement of Western Sahara to take on, and win, legal cases. Agrium has never responded to questions on Saharawi consent.



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26.04 - 2017 / 25.04 - 2017San Leon blames security for pause in occupied Western Sahara
25.04 - 2017 / 24.04 - 2017New report on global phosphate trade from occupied Western Sahara
23.04 - 2017 / 19.04 - 2017Vigeo Eiris asserts Saharawi consent unnecessary
15.04 - 2017 / 15.04 - 2017Kosmos/Cairn oil study in occupied waters has ended
11.04 - 2017 / 31.03 - 2017Agrium looks to other sources than Western Sahara
11.04 - 2017 / 11.04 - 2017Self-immolation by Moroccan sea captain in Dakhla
31.03 - 2017 / 31.03 - 2017Polisario protests Kosmos/Cairn exploration in occupied waters
30.03 - 2017 / 30.03 - 2017FMC Corp confirms it is no longer into Western Sahara phosphates
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28.03 - 2017 / 28.03 - 2017Unemployed Saharawi youth hi-jacked OCP bus
24.03 - 2017 / 24.03 - 2017Morocco's P for Politics in Africa
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23.03 - 2017 / 23.03 - 2017African Union asks Morocco not to sign Western Sahara deals
20.03 - 2017 / 20.03 - 2017French government dilutes Court of Justice conclusion
17.03 - 2017 / 17.03 - 2017Spain confirms: EU-Morocco trade deal not for Western Sahara goods
17.03 - 2017 / 02.03 - 2017New controversial energy infrastructure to be built in Western Sahara
16.03 - 2017 / 16.03 - 2017New publication on the EU and Western Sahara
10.03 - 2017 / 08.03 - 2017Morocco lobbies for toxic metals in EU agriculture
08.03 - 2017 / 05.03 - 2017Basque parliament asks companies to stay clear from Western Sahara


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.
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