WSRW has asked Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company to share the legal opinions that supposedly prove its activities in occupied Western Sahara are lawful with the legitimate owners of the territory’s phosphate reserves; the Saharawi people.
For years, companies that purchase phosphate rock mined in occupied Western Sahara have defended their imports to WSRW by referring to legal opinions by law firms retained by Office Chérifien des Phosphates SA (OCP); the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company that has been exploiting the Western Saharan phosphate resources following Morocco’s invasion of the territory in 1975.
OCP seems to have hired at least four law firms to craft legal opinions that allegedly conclude that because the “local people” benefit from the industry, is it legal. But the legitimate owners of the phosphate reserves – the Saharawi people – are themselves not allowed to see those opinions.
WSRW has already been in touch with all involved law firms; Covington & Burling LLP, DLA Piper, Palacio y Asociados and Dechert LLP, who all decline sharing the documents, citing client confidentiality.
Morocco shipped over 1.5 million tonnes of phosphate out of occupied Western Sahara in 2017, to the tune of over $142 million. But the number of international importers of the contentious conflict mineral is waning, WSRW's annual report shows.
Two Canadian companies, Agrium and PotashCorp, were behind two thirds of all imports of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara last year. WSRW today launched its annual report of the controversial trade in Western Sahara's white gold.
The export of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara has never been lower than in 2019. This is revealed in the new WSRW report P for Plunder, published today.
Morocco shipped 1.93 million tonnes of phosphate out of occupied Western Sahara in 2018, worth an estimated $164 million, new report shows. Here is all you need to know about the volume, values, vessels and clients.