The population of Koudiadiène and its nearby communities in the Senegalese region of Thiès coexists with the adjacent phosphate mine, a legacy of French colonial times for more than 70 years. The various 0financial operations and shareholding changes of the mines ownership have hardly modified the poverty of the people who have cohabited with phosphate, dust and the various companies that have passed through the area.

The high economic importance of phosphate and the fact that it is found only outside of Europe makes phosphate a strategic raw material for the European Union[1] and its agro-food model. The strategic relevance of phosphate and other raw materials is leading foreign multinational companies to prioritize the hoarding of large areas of land that guarantee the present and future competitiveness of their extractive industries. The case of the town of Koudiadiène and its relationship with the Spanish capital company SEPHOS SENEGAL S.A., the current exploiter of the mine, is framed in this complex network of relationships and global interests,

Since 2015, the Africa Europa Faith &Justice Network (AEFJN) and the Network of Entities for Solidarity Development (REDES) have been working with the population of Koudiadiène, collecting testimonies and publicizing the consequences of exploitation for the people. The lack of employment, the health problems derived from the omnipresent dust from the mine and the loss of arable land in the surroundings areas are evident, along with the corresponding difficulties in developing the traditional economic activity in the area. [2]

In May 2017, a committee drawn from the population of Koudiadiène presented the worries of the community to the Company.  They reached an agreement with those responsible for the mining whereby the company, at the proposal of its directors, would alleviate the precarious situation of the inhabitants of Koudiadiène caused by the mine. They agreed on measures regarding health, employment, training of young people, promotion of microcredit, productive projects and the conclusion of an environmental and socioeconomic comprehensive plan. All these would help to reduce the impact of the mine, especially at the end of the project. They were measures that showed the good intention of the company to carry out its activities with due diligence beyond what is stipulated by national and international legislation.[3]

However, a year on, the spokesman of the people’s committee states that neither the commitments nor the word given by SEPHOS have been carried out. Nothing.

Impact assessment and incomplete information

According to the information provided by the representatives of the community, the practices of the company SEPHOS in the mining exploitation of Koudiadiène are not different from those of other foreign companies in Senegal.

In the environmental and socioeconomic impact report carried out by the company when applying for the exploitation license, it warned about certain risks that the population could suffer as consequence of the mining exploitation. This was verified in situ during the visit to the mines of AEFJN and REDES. The agreement of 2017 tried to foster development commitments with the population but unfortunately they are not being met. The pertinence of the 2017 development commitments are shown in the socioeconomic section of the report. Moreover, according to the local people, the economic aid that the Company is providing to the Municipality of Cherif-lo (the urban centre to which Koudiadiène is attached) is not transparent enough and feeds the corruption of the authorities. The economic aid is not used in compensation or to improve the situation of the people affected by mining.

Although the company announced to AEFJN and REDES the progressive decrease in mining activity during our visit of 2017, the intensity is not decreasing, and the people are still suffering the negative impacts, as before. As the activity remains, various samples of dust have been taken and are being analysed by university experts involved in monitoring the area. Finally, the remediation plan, which is required by law for starting of mining operations, is not yet available.

AEFJN and REDES have repeatedly expressed to SEPHOS our desire to continue the dialogue process for the benefit of the company, the local community and the environment, as we look for examples of good practice in the development of business activity that respects Human Rights. Despite their good intentions, however, our communications are getting no response. Recently, though, the Spanish government has approved an Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, so we are now asking the company to comply with this plan by fulfilling its obligations and commitments with the population of Koudiadiène, guaranteeing a system of due diligence that respect the basic rights of the owners of the earth.


José Luis Gutiérrez Aranda – AEFJN

Jaime Palacio Forcat – REDES

[1] To understand the EU policies about Raw Materials, see

[2] To appreciate the evolution of the Koudiadiène case, see the report published by AEFJN and CIVODEV in 2015 and these articles:

[3] Mining Code of Senegal and the recommendations of the FAO