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Summary of the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

24th-29th September, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24th-29th of September 2017 and intervened as appropriate[1]. We were pleased to see the COP1 reached consensus on pending matters from prior meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) which resulted in establishing an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

Our main priorities for COP1 included adoption of forms and guidance that was approved at INC 7, and addressing the issues of reporting, waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, effectiveness evaluation, and matters for future action, which included the following decisions.

  • Article 3 guidance on identifying mercury stocks, and the forms/instructions for complying with mercury trade consent and related certification requirements;
  • The product and process exemption forms and associated register of exemptions under Article 6 of the Convention; a registrar will be kept by the Secretariat and these will also be available to the public
  • Article 8 (air emissions) guidance on BAT/ BEP, options for existing facility control requirements, preparing emissions inventories, and selection of “relevant sources” within the specified source categories; and
  • The Guidance for preparing the ASGM National Action Plan (NAP) under article 7.

COP1 also saw significant progress concerning various other ZMWG priorities, including :

Reporting:          Forms were adopted for use by Parties to report back on the measures undertaken to meet Convention obligations and on the effectiveness of those measures.  In particular, ZMWG most welcomed the decision for a shorter reporting cycle for supply and trade, reporting per year data on a biennial basis. For other obligations, Parties will report every four years. It was also agreed that each Party will submit its first biennial report by 31 December 2019 and its first full report by December 2021. Parties are also encouraged to submit an electronic form,  and the Secretariat is requested to make the Parties electronic reports available.

Furthermore, it was agreed that Parties would provide access to their data related to mercury emissions, under Article 8. Parties would also provide the rational on how they plan to ensure that facilities responsible for at least 75% of the emissions from a source category are subject to controls.

Waste Thresholds:          COP1 established an intercessional work group to further elaborate on waste thresholds, building on a document introduced by Japan. As recommended by NRDC/ZMWG, the terms of reference for the working group were focused more on determining which mercury wastes warrant thresholds rather than assuming thresholds are appropriate for all wastes. The expert group will identify the types of waste that fall within the categories specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11, provide related information; prioritising the types of waste identified that are most relevant for the establishment of waste thresholds, and identify possible approaches to establishing any needed thresholds for those prioritised waste for consideration at COP2. We were also pleased to see COP1 approving the participation of civil society within the working group, another ZMWG priority.

Interim Storage:                             COP1 requested the Secretariat to undertake further revision of the draft guidelines through input from relevant experts, including technical experts from the Basel Convention and present a revised draft for consideration at COP2. Provisional use of the current draft guidelines is encouraged.

Effectiveness Evaluation:             COP1 adopted a draft road map for establishing arrangements both for providing comparable monitoring data and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework, as ZMWG had sought.  To that end an ad hoc group of experts was established including 25 experts nominated by the Parties – 5 per region, as well as 10 civil society experts, including NGOs, as observers.

Matters for Future Action (Article 3) - (Article 14):              Several matters were brought up for consideration. Under Article 3, trade in mercury compounds was one of several issued identified for future consideration by the COP. In regards to Article 14 – Capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer, Parties and other stakeholder were invited to submit relevant information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer for the Secretariat to compile and present at COP2.

Despite progress made, challenges remain, both related to the location and structure of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Secretariat will be temporarily located in Geneva, with further review of arrangements at COP2.

In summary, the final road map is now in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury pollution, but critical work remains.   ZMWG looks forward to a productive second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva 19-23 November 2018.   

[1] All ZMWG interventions are available on our website http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_content&;;view=article&id=309:unenvironment-minamata-mercury-cop1-24-29-september-2017-geneva-switzerland&catid=54:developments-main-category&Itemid=104

Pesticides PDF Print

One of the major uses of mercury compounds as biocides was as seed dressing. These uses have been discontinued or banned in many countries (UNEP, 2002). In the formerSoviet Unionthe production of organomercurial pesticides was initiated in 1955 with a production that reached 200 metric tons/year by 1960. The main compound used was ethyl mercury chloride, but 14 different compounds are known to have used as pesticides in the country. Production of organomercurial pesticides in theRussian Federationhas ceased, but it is estimated that in recent years 20-40 metric tons has annually been used from stocks (Lassen et al., 2004).

A station for collecting of mercurial waste in the town ofKarpogoryhas been established by the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency in cooperation with the regional authorities inArkhangelsk. As part of the project, the Russian partners have organized an information campaign for schools, colleges and kindergardens. Pollution from the dangerous metal has for many years been a serious problem in Arkhangelsk Oblast.

InAustralia, a liquid fungicide product containing methoxy-ethyl mercuric chloride is used to control pineapple disease in sugarcane sett (UNEP, 2002). InIndiathe use of organomercurial pesticides in 1999-2000 reported by the Directorate of Plant Protection was 85 metric tons, although production seems to have ceased (Wankhade, 2003). Formerly a number of mercury-based pesticides were used inIndia, but today most are banned.

Unused product, including stocks of obsolete pesticides, may be lost or disposed of with normal waste or through special disposal programs.

Relevant legislation and NGO policy work

 The sale and use of pesticides containing mercury for plant protection purposes, and as a seed dressing, have been severely restricted or prohibited/discontinued in a large number of countries throughout the world, although certain limited uses remain in some countries.

In the EU

 In the EU, the sale and use of pesticides based on mercury compounds for plant protection are prohibited by Directive 79/117/EEU and its amendments. This also applies to seed treatment. On the other hand, the export of such preparations to countries outside the European Community is not specifically prohibited by the Directive.


Lesotho reported that two mercury-based pesticides, used as a dip for potatoes and as a seed dressing for seed-borne diseases in grain crops, have been discontinued. InColombia, registration of fungicides based on mercury compounds for agricultural use has been cancelled; presently, no registration is active for any mercury-based pesticide (UNEP, 2002).

For the US information is provided at http://www.epa.gov/hg/regs.htm, at http://www.epa.gov/hg/consumer.htm#bat and at http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/modelleg.cfm