Three hundred demonstrators, most of them Sahrawi refugees, protest against FMC Corp.’s plant in Huelva, Spain. On 1 June 2010, KLP reported that it has excluded the company from its portfolio because of the controversial imports.
By Erik Hagen
Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) continues to get rid of fertiliser companies that purchase their raw materials from occupied Western Sahara. Today, 1 June 2010, KLP announced that they have excluded two new corporations from its investment portfolio: American-Canadian PCS and American-Spanish FMC Corp. Last year Norwatch revealed that both companies were heavily represented in the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global.
“Extraction of natural resources from occupied areas, and especially Western Sahara, was declared illegal by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs in 2002,” Jeanett Bergan, manager of responsible investments in KLP Kapitalforvaltning, stated.
With this, KLP, an investor that provides pensions to 333 Norwegian municipalities, 35 other state enterprises and 2300 companies, has so far thrown out four international companies that import phosphate from the occupied territory. The phosphate deposits in Western Sahara are supposed to have contributed to the occupation in 1975 and have since then provided Morocco with incomes in the billion-dollar range. This industry is taking place without the Sahrawis being consulted and violates human rights, as summarised in the UN evaluation of 2002.
About 16 companies have during the past few years imported phosphate from Western Sahara. Of these, there seem to be 12 that have considerable and long-term delivery agreements with OCP, the Moroccan state phosphate company in Western Sahara. None of the companies involved in the industry have consulted the Sahrawi authorities.
Active for Many Decades
KLP has now excluded two of the most heavily involved phosphate companies.
The company that has been buying phosphate longest of them all is FMC Corp. in Huelva in southern Spain. Ever since before the occupation in 1975, when Western Sahara was a part of Spain, the factory has been buying phosphate from the area. After the Moroccans took over the industry in Western Sahara, the company maintained its purchasing agreements. And it still has them. The company is now owned by the large American corporation FMC.
The photo above shows a demonstration in front of FMC’s plant in Huelva in 2008. FMC is also involved on the ownership side of the Venezuelan company Tripoliven, which is another of the large international importers.
The other company that KLP now has blacklisted is the American-Canadian Potash Corp. Saskatchewan (PCS). PCS has imported from Western Sahara at least since 1987 and is the company that internationally imports most from Western Sahara.
PCS delivers fertiliser to the American market and receives its Western Sahara phosphate at its plant in Louisiana.
KLP has previously excluded the two Australian fertiliser companies Incitec Pivot and Wesfarmers because of similar imports. Both of these companies have imported from Western Sahara for years – Incitec Pivot at least since 1993 and Wesfarmers since 1990.Other Scandinavian investors have also divested themselves of the field.
The Government Pension Fund Still Involved
A survey that Norwatch carried out last year showed that these same companies are heavily represented in the Pension Fund. The Pension Fund has invested in eight of the import companies which are behind two thirds of all phosphate purchases from the occupied area. So far, however, the Ministry of Finance has not made a statement on whether a decision has been made with regard to the block of shares.
The value of the phosphate stone that the Pension Fund companies purchase must, according to Norwatch’s estimate, reached at least 4.5 billion Norwegian kroners in 2007 only (approx 700 million dollars). These profits go more or less directly to the Moroccan government.
The Pension Fund has still not announced divestment of these companies, despite the companies’ extremely long-lasting purchasing agreements. On the contrary, in 2009 it bought further into the industry.
In 2005 the Pension Fund sold off an American oil company because it had an option on extraction of oil in Western Sahara in the future. The activity was considered "a particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms because it may strengthen Morocco's sovereignty claims and thus contribute to undermining the UN peace process"
In 2008 Norwatch revealed that the Norwegian fertiliser corporation Yara had imported a phosphate cargo from Western Sahara valued at about 40 million kroner (6.1 mill USD), in conflict with the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Unlike the companies that KLP now has divested, Yara has maintained that the import was an isolated case.
The UN evaluation of 2002 determined that if the Sahrawi people are not consulted, or if it does not benefit them, the natural resource activity in Western Sahara is in conflict with international law.
Arms Companies Out
Simultaneously with its announcement today that it has dropped the two fertiliser companies, KLP also blacklisted two other companies.
Jacobs Engineering Group is excluded from the portfolio because the company is associated with the development of important elements and services linked with nuclear arms. The company’s joint venture, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), is involved in the production and maintenance of warheads for the Trident II missile system, which is part of the British nuclear defence.
McDermott International is associated with the development of elements and services affiliated with nuclear arms. The company’s subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox operates two nuclear arms factories, Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex, on behalf of American authorities.