Importation of phosphate in the Netherlands

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The Netherlands has reduced its use of fertilizer and especially Phosphate over the years, but still imports large amount of the mineral, due to its large agricultural production.

Phosphate: a mineral rock used in fertilizers for conventional/ industrial agriculture.

The consequences?

  • On the ecosystem:
    Strip mining of Phosphate removes large layers of the earth in order to reach the minerals underneath. This action leaves the earth barren, infertile and unable to sustain plant life, it entails draining large quantities of water. Furthermore, leaching of radioactive waste which is stored in the phosphate rock causes severe contamination of ground - and sea water as in the case of the island of Nauru, which impacts marine life, wildlife and ecosystems and human health.

  • Conditions of the workers:
    as many other mining industries, the working conditions are terrible, which effect in a shorter life span for the workers, especially in the mining areas of Maghreb and Russia which Europe imports most of it’s phosphate from. The prosperity of resources never reaches the workers of the mine, who’s lives and environment remains poor and polluted.

  • Geo-politics:
    EU is reliant on importing phosphate from Russia and Morocco including Western Sahara, Morocco and Western Sahara hold the largest reserve in the World, this intensifies the conflict between M and WS. Phosphate is a finite mineral which means; when other reserves run scarce, Morocco and Western Sahara might gain Monopoly in the industry. This can obviously cause tensions among neighboring countries and extremist groups. It is estimated that Islamic state earns around 350 millions on phosphate and phosphoric acid a year, which is sold on the black market, most likely also imported and sold in Europe.

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