US can be worth as much as the annual multilateral humanitarian aid to the refugees.
For over 35 years Morocco has illegally exploited Western Sahara’s natural resources against the explicit will of the territory’s indigenous population, the Saharawi people. The revenues are poured into furthering Morocco’s brutal and illegal military occupation. By importing phosphates from the territory, PCS today supports the continuation of the illegal occupation of Western Sahara and helps to undermine the UN peace process.
PCS is the largest purchaser of phosphate from Western Sahara, a position the firm has held for many years. The money from phosphate extraction and trade goes directly to the Moroccan state-owned company located in Western Sahara, Office Chérifien des Phosphates.
“This support needs to end so that Morocco engages with the UN referendum process. The phosphate trade in Western Sahara increases the risk of further armed conflict, destabilisation and suffering in the region”, stated Sara Eyckmans, co-ordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
If it acquires PCS, BHP Billiton will inherit the North American firm’s trade relations with the Moroccan government-owned firm in the occupied territory. As a potential new owner of PotashCorp, BHP Billiton has the opportunity to address the issue of PCS’s phosphate imports from occupied Western Sahara and thus to help end the conflict. Alternatively, should it not bring the imports to a halt after taking over PCS, BHP Billiton will be the largest private funder of the illegal and brutal occupation of Western Sahara.
PHILIPPINES: BHP Billiton pulls out of Hallmark Nickel
In January this year BHP Billiton cut ties with its controversial Hallmark nickel mine, selling its stake in the project to AMCOR.
Lodged between two protected areas – the Pujada Bay Protected Seascape and Mt. Hamiguitan Range, a proclaimed wildlife sanctuary – Macambol has never been the most logical site for a large-scale nickel laterite mining project.
Home to more or less a hundred hectares of “pygmy forests,” exotic plants and wild animals, the local community rely on rattan, timber and non-timber products as a source of livelihood. The community, successfully defending their lands and protected areas against large-scale logging, now stands wracked with increasing social tensions from the nickel mining operation.
Living in constant fear of displacement, loss of livelihoods and environmental degradation, the community continue to defend these two protected areas, which form part of their natural life support systems.
Extractives policy analyst Sonya Maldar, for the Catholic Overseas Development Agency (CAFOD), states, “Despite BHP Billiton’s withdrawal from the Hallmark project, it looks like the company’s former partners will proceed with the nickel mine. Given the serious flaws in the official consent process, AMCOR and any future partners in the project cannot use this to push ahead with mining in the area. There must be a new consent process that is genuinely free and fair before any mining can proceed at Macambol.”
“BHP Billiton’s distancing of itself from this project is not the end of the story. The people and environment of the Philippines are still at risk from poor practices within the mining industry. Despite claiming to be an industry leader, BHP Billiton’s management failed to ensure that the company and its partners met the highest standards at the Hallmark project and this impacted on its licence to operate in Macambol. These issues, which are often seen as more marginal to a good business model, can develop into serious business risks if left unaddressed, leading to loss of