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As new global mercury treaty enters into force, worldwide mercury production skyrockets, 
notes Global NGO Coalition on World Environmental Health Day

Geneva, 26 September 2017- As 156 countries convened for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention, 
a new UN report shows mercury mining skyrocketing in the last 5 years. Moreover, much of that mercury is used in artisanal and 
small scale gold mining (ASGM), the largest source of global mercury pollution.

Currently, countries do not have reliable information about trade in neighboring countries and within their own region. 
This problem is compounded where borders between countries are “porous,” and a significant portion of trade is informal or illegal. 
For example, mercury may enter a region through legal trade to one country, but then be traded illegally across borders to neighboring countries. 

“Informal trade is difficult to track, and therefore does not appear in the official trade statistics,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, 
Project Manager, Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau. 
“With timely reporting, Parties can better understand mercury flows in order to better enforce trade restrictions in the Convention.”

“In recent years there have been a number of shocks to the global market, resulting in a doubling of the price of mercury in the last 12 months alone,” 
said Michael Bender, Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “In addition, EU and US export bans now in place have resulted 
in a major shift in the main trading hub to Asia.”

“The emergence over the past five years of new small-scale producers of mercury in Mexico and Indonesia has made a difficult situation worse,” 
said Satish Sinha, Associate Director at Toxics Link in India. “Between these two countries alone, around 1000 tonnes are produced annually.”

“The main objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment by, in part, simultaneously 
reducing mercury supply and demand,” said  Rico Euripidou, Environmental Health Campaign Manager at groundWork 
in South Africa. Without adequate reporting on the global movement of mercury it will 
be difficult to monitor the overall effectiveness of the Convention, say NGOs.

“Annual reporting is consistent with the requirements of other environmental conventions such as Basel and the Montreal Protocol,” 
said Leslie Adogame, Executive Director at Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development in Nigeria.
“Legal trade flows must be understood before informal or illegal trade can be adequately addressed.”

An analysis of publicly available UN COMTRADE data over the period 2013-2016 (see below) reveals that the majority of global mercury flows 
from commodity trading centres (such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE) to developing country regions (such as Africa and Latin America) 
where mercury use in ASGM is prolific in response to the largest global gold rush the world has ever seen. 

see table at the pdf

see also PR in FR 

Notes to the editor

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/

 https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/21725/global_mercury.pdf?sequence=1&;;isAllowed=y

http://www.ifeh.org/wehd/

www.zeromercury.org

For further information, please contact:                                         

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ">  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ">  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.

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Towards a Mercury Treaty PDF Print
Friday, 03 September 2010 17:15

Mercury has been at the UNEP Governing Council (GC) agenda since its 21st session, in February 2001. The following milestones have been reached since then.

December 2002 – The Global mercury assessment was finalized.
February 2003 (Nairobi) - GC 22 – acknowledges there is a global problem with mercury
February 2005 (Nairobi) - GC decision 23/9 - decided on initial action
February 2007(Nairobi) - GC decision 24/3 –-current efforts not sufficient, further long-term action required: identified priority areas, set up process towards a global framework
November 2007 (Bangkok) – First Open Ended Working Group (OEWG1): Reviewed and identified the options
February 2008 (Monaco) – 10th Special Session of the Governing Council – A progress report from the OEWG 1 was acknowledged and adopted by the governments.
October 2008 (Nairobi) - OEWG2:  Adopted report of findings and recommendations for GC-25 – on a global policy framework and options of measures in each thematic area.
February 2009 (Nairobi) – GC Decision 25/5 – Decision to develop a global treaty on mercury and to continue and enhance existing work on mercury storage, supply , artisanal small scale gold mining, products and processes, national inventories, awareness raising and information on the sound management of mercury.

Decision 25/5 of the Governing Council launched the discussions towards the developement of a mercury treaty. An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was formed, to meet 5 times before the treaty text would be agreed by 2013.

The Zero Mercury Working Group has been following developments and participated at all relevant meetings since 2004. The work, preparations and all documents ZMWG developed and contributed to the meetings can be found below:

UNEP GC 23, 18-15 February 2005, Nairobi, Kenya 

UNEP GC 24, 5-9 February 2007, Nairobi, Kenya

UNEP Hg OEWG 1, 12-16 November 2007, Bangkok, Thailand

UNEP SS GC 10, 20-22 February 2008, Monaco

UNEP Hg OEWG 2, 6-10 October 2008, Nairobi, Kenya

UNEP GC 25, 16-20 February 2009, Nairobi, Kenya

UNEP Hg OEWG 3, 19-23 October 2009, Bangkok, Thailand

UNEP Hg INC 1, 7-11 June 2010, Stockholm, Sweden

UNEP Hg INC 2, 24-28 January 2011, Chiba, Japan

UNEP Hg INC 3, 31 October - 4 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

UNEP Hg INC 4, 27 June - 2nd July, 2012, Punta de l'Este, Uruguay

 UNEP Hg INC 5, 13 - 18  January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

UNEP Hg Diplomatic Conference, 7-11 October 2013, Kumamoto-Minamata, Japan

UNEP Hg INC 6, 3-7 November 2014, Bangkok, Thailand

UNEP Hg INC 7, 10-15 March 2016, Dead Sea, Jordan

UN_Environment Minamata Mercury COP1, 24-29 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland