Cemex’s New West Bank Policy

Drops Mining activity, Continues Production in Settlements

After a decade of aggregates mining in the occupied Palestinian territories, Cemex sold its share in the Yatir quarry. However, Cemex factories in the settlement industrial zones of Mevo Horon, Atarot, Mishor Adumim and Katzrin continue to operate as usual.

A letter recently sent by Cemex to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) described significant changes in the company's policy and operations in the occupied Palestinian territories. In this letter, which was published by BHRRC on 9 September 2015, Cemex announced that it had sold its holdings in the Yatir quarry, a mining site located south of the Palestinian city of Dhahiriya in the West Bank.

Cemex explained the move in the following words: "As part of the general strategy of Cemex that includes the sale of assets, CEMEX is no longer associated to the third party that manages and exploits the [Yatir] quarry" (the unofficial translation to English was provided by BHRRC). The company tried to further distance itself from the illegal mining preformed on site by claiming that "during the last decade CEMEX was not involved in the management of that particular quarry. The production, operation, logistics, sales, etc. were managed and operated exclusively by a local partner."

Following the publication of this response on BHRRC's website, the Who Profits Research Center launched an inquiry in order to check the validity of Cemex's announcement. Our findings confirm that Cemex has indeed sold all of its holdings in the Yatir quarry to its former partner, Kfar Giladi Quarries.

Until June 2015, the Yatir quarry was owned in equal shares by Kfar Giladi Quarries, an Israeli mining company owned by the Kfar Giladi kibbutz, and Lime and Stone Production, one of the largest manufacturers of quarry materials in the Israeli market. Lime and Stone Production and its parent company Readymix Industries are fully-owned subsidiaries of Cemex since 2005. Through its holdings in this quarry, Cemex has reaped profit from the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources for the use of the Israeli construction industry. This, in contravention of international humanitarian law, international human rights standards and corporate social responsibility codes of conduct.

On 10 June 2015, the Israeli Antitrust Authority approved a request for a merger between Kfar Giladi Quarries and the Yatir quarry. Less than a week after that, Lime and Stone Production was no longer listed by the Israeli Registrar of Companies as one of the quarry's owners. According to the Registrar's current data, Kfar Giladi is the sole owner of the Yatir quarry.

While Cemex hastened to drop the mining operations in Yatir, it continues to operate four factories on occupied land. Readymix Industries holds production sites in the settlement industrial zones of Mevo Horon, Atarot and Mishor Adumim in the West Bank and Katzrin in the occupied Golan Heights. In June, the Who Profits team visited Readymix's factory in Atarot and witnessed considerable activity on site.

Through Readymix, Cemex has provided concrete elements for the construction of military and settlement infrastructure across the occupied West Bank. Company products were used for the construction of the Hawara and Azzun-Atma checkpoints and a security wall along the Gilo Bridge; similar concrete products were used in the construction of the light rail in East Jerusalem. Additionally, the company regularly provides concrete products for the construction of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

According to Cemex's letter to BHRRC, it appears that the company will continue to produce concrete elements in illegal settlements and supply construction materials for the construction of settlements. In its letter, Cemex argues that "the concrete plants are located in legal settlements approved by the Israeli government and validated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Israel." By accepting the Israeli government's position regarding the legality of the settlements and by maintaining production lines on occupied land, Cemex not only profits from the Israeli occupation, but also provides vital support for the expansion of settlements and reinforcement of Israeli control beyond the Green Line.

Over the coming weeks, Who Profits will update the profiles of the companies mentioned in this update.