Innophos importing heavily from occupied Western Sahara

The Mexican imports of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara is picking up pace. New images from Mexico today show a second vessel offloading - while a third is on its way.

05 September 2021

Right now, a large bulk vessel is offloading phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in the harbour of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. The ship, Georgios P, arrived to Mexico on 28 August 2021 with an estimated 55.000 tonnes of rock from the territory. It has remained in port for a few days and during the morning of 5 September 2021, it was still observed offloading the cargo into the Innophos facilities. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has received drone images of the vessel offloading cargo from the occupied territory, taken through the morning fog in Coatzacoalcos port. As can be seen from the images, the vessel currently floats high in the water, and it has thus nearly completed its controversial offloading.

The incident happens only three weeks after WSRW wrote about the sudden transport of phosphate rock from Western Sahara to Mexico, imported by the company Innophos Holdings, taking place on 4 August 2021. 

Western Sahara is under foreign occupation by Morocco, which uses the exports of such rock to finance and legitimise its occupation. The phosphate arriving in Mexico is used for the local agriculture industry. 

It is not yet known to WSRW who the local clients of Innophos are, applying the conflict minerals on their soils.  

The article continues below the video.

Innophos in 2018 specifically stated that it had stopped sourcing rock from Western Sahara as a matter of social responsibility. “As part of Innophos’ commitment to overall social responsibility and good corporate stewardship, Innophos will no longer indirectly participate in a raw material supply chain which sources phosphate rock from the Western Sahara region in Africa,” the company wrote in a press release on 2 July 2018. 

Yet, even after two shipments taking place in violation of that promise, there is still more to arrive. 

While Georgios P is about to complete is offloading, a third shipment is currently on its way. Yesterday, 4 September 2021, the bulk carrier Genava (IMO 9731248) departed El Aaiún with phosphate rock from the occupied territory. The Genava is Swiss-flagged and appears on the fleet list of Zürich headquartered shipping company Reederei Zürich A. Genava has reported Mobjack Bay in Virginia, US, as end destination, which is the same incorrect destination as applied by the previous two vessels Georgios P and Amis Ace as they departed from Western Sahara. Neither of the two first vessels went anywhere close to Virigina.  

In three quick, consecutive import incidents from July to September, Innophos in Mexico will thus become one of the most important import countries of phosphate rock from Western Sahara. Annual reports of the trade from WSRW shows that the biggest importer the last years has been Paradip in India, which is owned by the Moroccan exporting company OCP. New Zealand has for a number of years ranked second. 

The story of Innophos imports earlier this month was covered in Mexican media, such as by Diario del Istmo, Imagen del Golfo, Imagen del Veracruz, Diario de Acayucan, Costa Veracruz, La Jornada Veracruz and El diario de Minatitlán.

The importing company, Innophos Mexicana, is a Mexican subsidiary of the US company Innophos Holdings, Inc. 

The above picture of Georgios P is free to use, no credit needed. High resolution can be downloaded here. The video can be downloaded here

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