Bomb destroys phosphate conveyor belt

Morocco's illegal exports of phosphate rock through a controversial conveyor belt has been targeted by what is claimed to be a bomb.

26 May 2023

Rumours have been circulating the last five days that a bomb had destroyed a section of the 100 kilometer conveyor belt that Morocco uses to export the phosphates from the mine deep inside the part of Western Sahara that it occupies and the coast. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has now obtained videos of the place where the explosion allegedly took place. The videos show that the black rubber conveyor belt has been totally ripped apart. From what appears in the videos, one of the cement foundations has seemingly been lifted a few meters away. A few dozen meters of the belt system are clearly damaged. A part of the belt structure's metallic cover have taken on a black colour. 

The article continues below the video. 

From what WSRW understands, the incident happened on 20 May 2023. However, neither Polisario nor OCP or Morocco have commented on the matter. The explosion is to have taken place along the “Section 7” of the conveyor belt. WSRW has as of today no way to assure the authenticity of the received videos, but regards them as credible.  

The German company Continental used to carry out the maintenance of the rubber elements of the belt, but the company terminated its involvement after critique from the international investors. 

Three countries receive near all of the illegally exported phosphates: Mexico, India and New Zealand. WSRW's latest annual report of the trade, containing the trade data of 2022, shows that four importing companies in the three countries received 92 percent of the exported minerals. 

The companies that are currently importing the goods without the permission from the Saharawi people are Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Ravensdown, Innophos and Paradeep. WSRW condemns the four companies' continued support to the Moroccan government. The companies fail to explain why they consider Morocco to be a relevant business partner in relation to the conflict mineral. 

All stock-exchange registered companies that previously imported from the territory have halted the practice, as it was seen to be in violation of international law or fundamental human rights. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch calls on the companies that import phosphate rock from the territory and that provide infrastructure for Morocco in the territory that it occupies, to immediately end their support to the occupation. Most involved the last years have been Enel, Siemens Gamesa and General Electric, through construction of energy infrastructure for the Moroccan government. 

Morocco has illegally occupied the territory of Western Sahara since 1975, causing half the Saharawi people to flee. The International Court of Justice, the European Court of Justice, the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights and the UN are clear that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco. As such, Morocco has no right to exploit the resources in the territory or build infrastructure there without the permission of the Saharawi people. 


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