Confirmed: Innophos key client of Western Sahara phosphate rock
Article image

The US company Innophos admits in its latest annual report to be purchasing the conflict mineral through PotashCorp.

Published 01 March 2018

Western Sahara Resouces Watch in its previous annual report over global phosphate trade from Western Sahara, P for Plunder 2016, wrote that it was likely that the US company Innophos Holdings was a key purchaser of phosphates rock originating from Western Sahara. 

The purchases were not done directly from the Moroccan exporter in Western Sahara, but from the importing fertilizer company PotashCorp (now Nutrien) . 

The large-scale importer has a factory directly nextdoors to Innophos in Geismar, Louisiana. WSRW wrote last year that a pipeline is built between the two factories, transporting the phosphate derivates from PotashCorp to Innophos. Check the two factories' location on Google

WSRW now sees that the role of Innophos has been confirmed in the latest annual report from Innophos Holdings [or download]: 

"We are also subject to risks stemming from local social and political conditions in those jurisdictions where the phosphate rock that supports our operations is sourced. The phosphate rock that it utilized by PCS to supply MGA to our Geismar, Louisiana facility is subject to those social and political conditions in Western Sahara, where PCS sources the phosphate rock, which territory has had a long history of social and political upheaval. If PCS is unable to source phosphate rock or sufficient amounts of phosphate rock, our MGA supply would be disrupted and our ability to manufacture our products could be materially adversely affected", Innophos most recent annual report, covering 2016, reads. The report was published 3 April 2016, at the time the previous WSRW P for Plunder report went to print. 

A Mexican subsidiary of US registered Innophos Holdings was previously an important and long-term direct importer of Western Sahara phosphate rock. But since 2015, WSRW has not observed any shipments to Innophos' plant in Coatzalcoalcos, Mexico. 

PotashCorp, often refered to as PCS (Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan) was a Canadian company with a phosphoric acid plant in Geismar, USA. Earlier this year, Potash Corp merged with that other giant importer, Canada's Agrium Inc. The newly merged firm, Nutrien Inc, has indicated that the imports to Vancouver (the former Agrium plant) will be halted by the end of 2018. The firm has, however, not yet disclosed its plans regarding the imports to Geismar, Louisiana.

The PotashCorp (now Nutrien) plant in Louisiana has the longest track record of importing from Western Sahara out of all known importing firms, and has in recent years consistently ended in the top three of biggest annual takers. 

WSRW has today contacted Innophos with regard to its purchases of Western Sahara phosphate rock from PotashCorp. WSRW has contacted Innophos several times already since 2010, but has never received an answer. The company's lack of response has not gone unnoticed by several of its former investors: the company has been subject to many divestments. A lengthy analysis for the ethical exclusion of the firm was prepared by the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund in 2015. For the same reason, the company has also been kicked out of the portfolios of the Luxembourg Pension Fund and Danske Bank, among others.

UPDATE, 18.04.2018: The Annual Report of Innophos of 2017 repeats the reference from the year before.

Norway ethical council recommends exclusion of Innophos

The Council on Ethics of the Norwegian government pension fund recommended blacklisting of the US/Mexican fertilizer producer Innophos due to phosphate imports from Western Sahara. "Particular serious violation of fundamental ethical norms", the council concluded.
04 February 2015

WSRW urges Innophos to answer on unethical imports

The US-Mexican firm Innophos has imported phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara for decades. As a new vessel is this week about to arrive Mexico from occupied territory, WSRW requests again about the trade.
08 December 2011

Innophos' unethical cooperation with OCP has possibly expired

In December 2010, the long term agreement between the Mexican phosphate importer Innophos and the Moroccan phosphate company OCP expired. The trade has been going on for 18 years, and it is not known whether arrangements have been made to continue the cooperation. The firm has not yet responded to questions WSRW sent in October regarding the unethical purchases from the occupied territory.

01 January 2010