Wide Angle

Losing ground in Brussels, the Polisario signs a mineral exploration agreement

On Saturday, the Polisario Front announced that it signed an agreement with an Australian company to explore minerals in the Sahara. This is not the first time that the Front signs similar agreement with foreign companies.

The Moroccan wall./Ph. DR
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After losing ground in Brussels, where the European Parliament adopted the EU-Morocco association and Fisheries agreements, the Polisario announced that it signed an agreement with a foreign company for the exploration of minerals in the Sahara.

On its official press agency, the Front reported, Saturday, that the Australian firm Hanno Resources Limited will «be exploring minerals in the liberated Sahrawi territories».

The agreement, signed by the Front’s «head of Petroleum and Mining Authority» Ghali Zubeir, would grant the Australian firm «four licenses for mineral exploration covering an area of 8000 km2, targeting the discovery of iron, gold, uranium and other minerals», wrote SPS.

The new agreement comes as a «revision and amendment to previous agreements in Titris», that lies to the east of the Moroccan Berm.

Other mineral exploration agreements

Indeed, the agreement signed on Saturday is not the first of its kind. Hanno has been operating in the area for 15 years. In a document made available on the internet, the Australian firm indicated that it was granted in March 2007, exclusive «4-year Technical Cooperation Agreement to assess the mineral prospectivity» in the area.

Speaking to the Australian firm on Monday, a source confirmed the reports to Yabiladi, stating that Hanno has been operating in the region for more than 10 years, without giving further details.

In 2014, the Polisario Front signed in Paris seven agreements with Hanno, granting the company «a total license of 14 thousand square kilometers».

During the same year, the Polisario signed in London another agreement, awarding the Bir Lahlou Block into UK-based company Red Rio Petroleum Limited, reported Western Sahara resource Watch.

At the time, the Front announced that «in addition to exploring the block for conventional oil and gas deposits, the Contractor will conduct feasibility study of the suitability of the Silurian Black Shale formation to allow production of shale gas or shale oil when drilled and stimulated by hydraulic fracturing».

The UN resolutions

However, building facilities in the eastern part of the berm and, eventually, exploring resources there violate the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on April the 27th.

In the same resolution, the Secretary-General asked the Polisario to stop the «planned relocation of administrative functions to Bir Lahlou» and urged it to «refrain from any such destabilizing actions».

The recommendations of the UN Security Council came after Moroccan Foreign minister met, at the UN headquarters in New York, with UN Secretary General in April. Bourita handed a written message sent by King Mohammed VI to Antonio Guterres on the Polisario’s military presence in the buffer zones.

On October the 31st, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2440, which reaffirmed the calls of the previous document. «The Council called specifically on the POLISARO Front to adhere fully to its commitments to the Personal Envoy in respect of Bir Lahlou, Tifariti and the buffer strip at Guerguerat», wrote the UN in its resolution on the Western Sahara conflict.

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