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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.

Home Press Releases Mercury Rising: EU must press on with urgent mercury export ban
Mercury Rising: EU must press on with urgent mercury export ban PDF Print
Friday, 08 September 2006 01:00
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Brussels, 8 September 2006- Environmental and health NGOsi opposed to mercury today urged the European Commission to abandon its deadlock and finally proceed with a delayed EU mercury export ban and secure storage of surplus mercury, in line with the EU’s Mercury Strategy of 28 January 2005. “We’ve been waiting for the Commission to make a proposal since at least the start of the year. Every month it delays, Europe is polluting the planet with one of the most toxic substances known to man”, said John Hontelez, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau.

All parties agree that there is a pressing need for an EU mercury export ban. As long ago as June 2005, EU Environment Ministers accepted the need for the ban and agreed on the strategy. In March this year the European Parliament also demanded an export ban. The move would be in line with the decision of UNEP’s 23rd Governing Council, where the EU told world governments it intended to halt exports of this dangerous substance.

“The EU is the world’s largest mercury exporter, and most of its mercury goes to developing countries.” said Ravi Agarwal of Toxics Link, India, “This dangerous neurotoxin is often haphazardly used and released, contaminating workers, their families, local communities and global food supplies. The EU must accept it has a moral and economic duty to take the lead in dealing with global mercury problems.”

“Strong EU leadership will not only encourage more countries to reduce their mercury consumption, it will also encourage global trade agreements, which are clearly needed”, said Zuleica Nycz, ACPO, Brazil. “Banning mercury exports will help reduce demand by increasing prices and thus encouraging more efficient use and reduced releases, with no adverse economic impact.ii,iii.”

The NGOs stress that the proposed export ban should cover metallic mercury, mercury compounds and mercury-containing products, which are, or soon will be, subject to use and marketing restrictions within the EU. The EU should avoid double standards and allow all the world’s citizens to be similarly protected. The ban on EU mercury exports should be implemented as soon possible, preferably by 2008iv, but certainly not later than 1 January 2011. The European Parliament’s resolution (March 2006) demanding implementation by 2010 must also be borne in mind.

“A strong and clear EU position is essential to confirm the global actions presented in this Community Strategy”, said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group, “which must send a clear message to the world that mercury emissions, supply and demand should be reduced to an absolute minimum, as rapidly as possible, and in the interim, measures should be taken to protect the health of people who are most at risk, particularly women of childbearing age and children.”

Mercury drifts far and wide through the atmosphere, contaminating both European and global food supplies at levels which seriously risk human health, wildlife and the environment. “We shouldn’t underestimate the value of a strong EU commitment to tackling mercury problems globally”, said Génon Jensen, Executive Director of European Public Health Alliance Environment Network. “This is a straightforward opportunity to reduce health risks to millions of EU citizens, and many more globally, that we absolutely cannot afford to miss.”

The EU Extended Impact Assessment reveals that some 3-15 million people in Europe have mercury levels around the recommended limit and many of them have levels ten times as high, which are known to cause serious neurodevelopmental effects. Although the EU assessment does not calculate the costs of such contamination, a recent studyv estimates that between 300,000-600,000 babies born each year in the USA suffer from impaired neurological development which is due directly to methyl mercury exposure, and which costs the economy an estimated US$8.7bn a year in lost earnings.


For further information:-

See letter sent to Commissioners: http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/060907Letter%20toCommissionersMercuryExp ort Ban.pdf

Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 289 1301

John Hontelez, European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Secretary General, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 289 1091

Génon K. Jensen, EPHA Environment Network (EEN), www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text3053 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 234 3640

Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text67916 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 2239000

Zuleica              Nycz,            ACPO, http://www.acpo.org.br/principal.php, zu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +55 41 3014-8096

Ravi Agarwal, Toxics Link, http://www.toxicslink.org/, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text70753 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +91 11 24 32 80 06

i i Environmental NGOS include

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Zero Mercury Working group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2006 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach “‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”

The Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 28 public interest non-governmental organisations from around the world formed initially in 2002 by 2 US based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (www.Mercurypolicy.org). working to end pollution from the toxic metal -- Mercury.

European Public Health Alliance Environment Network (EEN), http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organizations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

And with the support of NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).

ii Veiga MM, PA Maxson, LD Hylander, “Origin and consumption of mercury in small-scale gold mining.” Journal of Cleaner Production 14 (2006) 436-447, Elsevier..

iii COM (2005) 20 final - Extended Impact Assessment, on the Community Strategy on Mercury, pg. 26

iv as originally proposed in earlier Commission drafts but also by the Luxembourg Presidency http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/05/st07/st07986.en05.pdf

v Mount Sinai study: Public health and economic consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain, February 28, 2005 http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2005/7743/7743.pdf