Thursday, May 18, 2017

Phosphate hung up in Panama

A shipment of phosphate rock from the Western Sahara desert in Africa was sailing for Canada until it was impounded by court order in Panama.

Agrium Inc. intended to use the phosphate rock to make fertilizer at its plant at Redwater, Alberta.

It’s the second boatload from Western Sahara that has been impounded by court order arising out of a dispute about who owns the resource.

Both Morocco and Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic or SADR lay claim to the region and its resources.

Agrium’s director of investor relations, Todd Coakwell, said the Calgary-based company is working with the ship owner, Danish Ultrabulk A/S, to get the shipment moving again.

He says the delay is not expected to affect production because Agrium has enough inventory to continue to process it for inclusion in several agricultural fertilizers.

Earlier, a ship bound for New Zealand was detained in South Africa.

SADR claims the shipments have been illegally mined by an occupying government.

Coakwell says an "independent assessment" done for Agrium in 2016 concluded continued purchases would not contribute to negative human rights outcomes in the Western Sahara.

Coakwell could not confirm a report that the ship contains 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock because that would violate confidentiality terms of its supply contract.