Incitec confirms it purchased conflict mineral cargo

The Australian company Incitec Pivot has today confirmed that it is the purchaser of a cargo of phosphate rock that the Moroccan government has exported out of the territory held under illegal occupation. 

27 September 2022

Photo: The Moroccan state company OCP's export terminal in occupied Western Sahara. @ElliLorz

In a meeting today between the Australian company Incitec Pivot and an Australian trade union, the fertilizer company confirmed that it is the client of the cargo onboard the bulk vessel Clipper Isadora that is currently steaming across the Indian Ocean. The vessel is expected to arrive at the port of Geelong on 15 October 2022. 

It is the first importation from occupied Western Sahara to Australia and Incitec Pivot since 2016. 

From what WSRW has learned now, the ship contains 33,000 tonnes of phosphate rock plundered by the Moroccan government in the territory that it holds under occupation. The volume corresponds to WSRW's calculations based on the vessel's draught. WSRW first wrote about the incident on 23 September, as the vessel informed of its route towards the port of Geelong. 

Incitec Pivot is the only stock-exchange registered company in the world that today purchases the contentious product.  

During today's meeting, Incitec did not exclude the possibility that they will also purchase in the future. The Australian trade unionists during the meeting stressed the severe human rights violations in the territory, for instance the ones committed against the activist Sultana Khaya, who was a guest at Australian union meetings in 2015. 

"Based on the lack of guarantees and credible supply chain policy from the company, Western Sahara Resource Watch calls on international owners to divest from the company. Incitec Pivot has obviously not appreciated the ethical and legal aspects of such business practice, nor taken into account the long engagement by its owners in earlier years. It is clearly an unacceptable risk for investors to be part of future incidents if remaining invested in the company", noted Cate Lewis from Western Sahara Resource Watch in Australia. 

Several international banks and asset managers have had Incitec Pivot (IPL) excluded from their portfolios due to the trade from Western Sahara. Some of those later removed IPL from the exclusion lists as the company had seemingly stopped its importation practice. Lewis underlines that the current incident shows that it was too soon for investors to accept IPL shares, considering the lack of proper guarantees from the company.  

“We live in a world where principles of basic international law are under pressure. Companies should not undermine these principles by supporting illegal occupations”, stated Lewis. 

The African Court for Human and Peoples' Rights on 22 September 2022 concluded in a landmark ruling that Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara is a serious violation of the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and independence. 

This comes on top of a series of rulings in the EU Court of Justice that cover several EU-Morocco bilateral agreements, and the specific NM Cherry Blossom case in the High Court in South Africa that related to the Moroccan company OCP's illegal export of the mineral. 

WSRW wrote a letter to Incitec Pivot on 20 September, and has so far not received a reply.  

From what WSRW understands, the payment of the cargo to the Moroccan government's state owned company takes place only when the cargo is received. 

Since you're here....
WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. We work totally independently and to a large extent voluntarily. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do too. We look for more monthly donors to support our work. If you'd like to contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 8€ monthly… what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can set up a monthly donation to WSRW quickly here.

New report: Western Sahara phosphate trade halved

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.

24 February 2020

New report on Western Sahara phosphate industry out now

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.

08 April 2019

New report on contentious Western Sahara phosphate trade

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.

25 April 2018