New Zealand phosphate imports may face protests
New Zealand companies purchasing the so-called “blood phosphate” from Western Sahara may face massive protests in ports where they are unloaded, have warned union leaders.
Western Sahara is a hotspot of tension in Morocco, as local political movements demand independence. However, Morocco has been steadfastly refusing them this: large deposits of phosphorites are concentrated here (according to available estimates, about 27% of the world’s reserves) are of high quality.
Due to geological features, New Zealand does not have its own deposits of phosphorites, so they are imported for processing from Africa as phosphorus fertilizers are in good demand among local farmers. Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown farmers’ cooperatives import about $ 30 million worth of phosphorites from West Africa each year.
A ship chartered by Ravensdown, the Federal Crimson, is currently unloading at Port Chalmers. The ship has been boarded by members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, who have handed protest letters to the captain.
Union organizer John Kerr was “hopeful” that companies would find alternative sources of agrochemical raw materials, but if they didn’t, union members could take more decisive action next time.