BHP Billiton says it has commissioned an independent report for its Mozal operation on the safety of the bypass proposal. The report has not been released publicly and the two authors have not been given permission to speak publicly about their findings.
Vanessa Cabanelas from Justiça Ambiental states, “The study on the dispersion and deposition of fumes and gas is complete rubbish, it cannot even be referred to as a study as it violates the most basic concept of what a scientific study should contain; it does not have any information on authors, dates and methodology or where, when and how the data was gathered. We find it impossible to have faith in such a document. One of the self claimed authors informed us publicly, in a television debate, that the study was undertaken with data provided from Mozal.”
Justiça Ambiental says that all attempts to contact BHP Billiton in the United Kingdom and Australia have proven to be unsuccessful.
“They clearly have double standards when working in Maputo, Mozambique and in Richards Bay, South Africa. The procedures undertaken to ensure no harm to the people or the environment are completely opposite.”
Funded in part by World Bank financing through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), BHP Billiton is required to adhere to specific performance standards throughout the life of the project to maintain the loan. Yet evidence is growing that the Mozal operation is violating BHP Billiton’s codes of transparency, and its policies of zero harm and abiding by the strictest emissions standards.
WESTERN SAHARA: Bou Craa phosphate mine
Co-written by Sara Eyckmans (Western Sahara Resource Watch), John Gurr (Western Sahara Campaign, UK), Cate Lewis (Australia Western Sahara Association)
In August 2010, BHP Billiton announced its interest in acquiring the US-Canadian fertiliser firm PotashCorp (PCS). If BHP Billiton succeeds in its possible take-over, it will be forced to either actively support or directly undermine the UN’s work to decolonise the last colony in Africa. For decades, the fertiliser producer PCS has been importing phosphates from Western Sahara, a territory largely occupied by Morocco since 1975. To this day, no state or international organisation recognises Morocco’s sovereignty over the resource-rich territory.
The United Nations lists Western Sahara as a so-called Non-Self Governing Territory pending the process of decolonisation. Furthermore, the UN has repeatedly stated that the illegal occupation must end and that the Saharawi population is entitled to freely exercise their right to self-determination through a free, fair and transparent referendum – something which Morocco continues to block.
The large Bou Craa phosphate deposits in the northern part of Western Sahara played a large role in triggering the Moroccan invasion of the territory. A UN delegation that visited the territory formerly known as Spanish Sahara in 1975, as part of the decolonisation of the territory, stated that “eventually the territory will be among one of the largest exporters of phosphate in the world”. According to their assessment, a free Western Sahara would become the second largest phosphate exporter, after Morocco itself. However, just a few months later, Morocco invaded Western Sahara and took control over the Bou Craa mines. Following the Moroccan take-over, almost all Saharawi workers have been replaced with Moroccan settlers. Nearly all important posts of the firm are controlled by Moroccans.
Today, the phosphate production in Bou Craa amounts to 10 % of Morocco’s total production; Bou Craa’s annual production is around 3 million tonnes, contributing substantially to Morocco’s national income. The sacked indigenous workers protest the plunder, or languish in the refugee camps in Algeria, dependent on foreign humanitarian aid. None of the proceeds of the phosphate industry are sent to these refugees. Some of the largest shipments that are exported to PCS in the