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Canadian Company AGRIUM INC (Now NUTRIEN INC) illegal activities in Western Sahara

Canada’s Agrium started importing phosphates from Western Sahara for the first time during the autumn of 2013. The bulk vessel Pacific Constant is here seen departing Vancouver harbour after having delivered phosphates from the occupied territory in December 2017.

Early 2018, Agrium Inc merged with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc into Nutrien Inc. Both firms were major importers of Western Sahara phosphate rock – a legacy bestowed upon Nutrient. Agrium Inc. was a global producer and marketer of nutrients for agricultural and industrial markets. The company was a public traded company, based in Calgary, Canada, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange. Agrium signed a contract with OCP in 2011, and announced it would start importing in the second half of 2013. The phosphates, imported in order to replace an exhausted source in Canada, were claimed to be originating from “Morocco”.60 However, they do not. The phosphates are from Western Sahara. A first shipment arrived in the Canadian west coast port of Vancouver in October 2013.61 Agrium then transports the landed phosphate from a dock in Vancouver, by rail to a fertilizer manufacturing plant in Redwater, in the province of Alberta. In 2016, Agrium commissioned an assessment of the firm’s impact on human rights in Western Sahara, carried out by Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP. The report contains several flaws in terms of content, analysis and methodology. The analysis explicitly underlines that it “is beyond the scope of this Assessment” to conclude whether or not Morocco is the administering power of Western Sahara. Yet, the report’s assessment repeatedly takes for granted that Morocco is the administering power, and that it therefore has a right to manage the resources of the territory. This report is used today to convince investors that the company’s operations are ok. At the same time, Agrium commented to WSRW on 30 March 2017 that “any issues you may have with its content or the background work that they did, should be taken up with [Norton Rose Fulbright] directly and we would be happy to help facilitate that discussion.”62 The company systematically refuses to answer any question relating to what steps it has taken to seek the consent of the Saharawi people. In 2017, Agrium received 9 shipments of phosphate rock sourced in Western Sahara, amounting to an estimated 529,840 tonnes with a total value of US $47.5 million. That is a slight decrease compared to the 579,000 tonnes import of 2016, however well underneath the 779,000 tonnes of its first full year of importing, 2014. WSRW asked Nutrien in February 2018 whether the company had undertaken any steps to obtain the consent of the people of Western Sahara with regard to the imports of phosphate rock by Agrium in 2017, and enquired about the announced termination of the imports.63 The company did not reply. Chuck Magro, former CEO of Agrium and current CEO of Nutrient, announced on 25 January 2018 that the contract between the legacy company Agrium and OCP would be terminated by the end of the year. The company is still assessing what to do with the imports to the factory controlled by the legacy company PotashCorp, and announced it would make a statement on the matter mid-2018.64

Source:WSRW- Western Sahara Resource Watch: Download the full report here.


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