Morocco illegally exported 1.1 million tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara in 2020

London, April 14, 2021 (SPS) - In 2020, Morocco has illegally exported 1. 1 million tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara, with a value of $170.8 million, said a Western Sahara Resources Watch (WSRW) report.

The observatory in charge of monitoring the exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources (WSRW) published on Tuesday a report pointing out the transport of 22 vessels to different destinations during 2020. India and New Zealand were the first importers of this mineral after their agreement with the Moroccan national phosphate company OCP Group.

OCP SA has no right to export phosphate from Western Sahara and the export remains approximately at the same level as in the record-low 2019, added Western Sahara Resources Watch.

WSRW revealed that India and New Zealand respectively imported 64% and 20.41% of phosphate, while the remaining mineral went to Brazil, Japan and most likely to China and Philippines.

Mineral equipment suppliers Continental and Epiroc have ended their collaboration with Western Sahara, “after investor pressure,” added the same source.

“The illegally exploited phosphate rock is an important source of income for the Moroccan government, which holds large parts of the Western Sahara territory under military occupation, contrary to international law,” stated the report that recalled the constant complaints of the Sahrawi people against the trade, both to the UN and to the foreign companies involved in the exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources.

Last February, WSRW has issued a warning to the Brazilian companies Cefértil and Copebras against the use of phosphate from Western Sahara in violation to international law.

The observatory that traced back the phosphate cargo vessels travelling from Western Sahara to Santos, located in the state of Sao Paolo and to an industrial site in Cubatao, has reported observing since July 2019 many phosphate shipments for the purpose of producing fertilizers.

WSRW has listed some shipments, including Orient Tribune bulk vessel which dropped anchor in July 2019 to the ports of Salvador and Antonina, Wulin vessel that landed in Santos in October 2019 and the three shipments of 2020 that jointly transported about 100,000 tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara to Brazil.

“The Western Sahara phosphate trade is so controversial. The UN considers Western Sahara a non-self-governing territory (…) As stated by the International Court of Justice and confirmed by four consecutive decisions of the European Court of Justice (…) Morocco has no legal mandate to govern Western Sahara,” stated the observatory in a letter addressed to Brazilian companies; namely, Cefertil and Copebras, a subsidiary of the Chinese company China Molybdenum.SPS