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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

Home MERCURY AND ITS USES/EMISSIONS Mercury Trade, Supply and Storage
Mercury Trade, Supply and Storage PDF Print
Friday, 11 March 2011 17:01

Mercury Trade, Supply and Storage

A critical element of reducing mercury use and pollution is reducing the global mercury supply. Reducing global supply will help to reduce mercury demand, by raising the price of mercury and making it more difficult to acquire.  This result is especially important for lowering mercury uses that are difficult to address directly or through legal restrictions, such as small-scale gold mining. Because mercury cannot be destroyed or converted into other substances, reducing global supply requires reducing and ultimately eliminating international trade of mercury and creating safe long-term storage for existing mercury stocks.

Sources of Mercury Supply

Main Mercury Sources

Metric Tons Per Year

Primary mercury mining

1300-1600

By-product mercury from mining other metals, and natural gas production

400-600

Decommissioning Chlor-alkali facilities

700-900

Recovery of mercury from spent used products, and other wastes

600-800

 Government or private mercury stocks

As needed

TOTAL

3100-3900+


Primary mercury mining is the least preferred source of mercury because it adds new mercury to the global mercury reservoir, and mining activities are significant sources of mercury air pollution.  Kyrgyzstan and China are the only countries that still operate large-scale primary mercury mines, and only Kyrgyzstan mines for export.
                Mining other ores such as gold, zinc, lead, and copper can generate significant quantities of by-product mercury during smelting and refining activities.  Pollution control devices at metal mines add to the quantity of byproduct mercury by trapping mercury air pollution.  Producers of natural gas also capture elemental mercury in order to prevent corrosion of their production lines.
                Significant quantities of mercury are generated from collection, recycling and reprocessing of mercury-containing products, and industrial wastes, particularly in the developed world. Reprocessed mercury is a growing source of mercury supply as environmental regulations divert mercury during waste management for safety and environmental reasons.
                Particularly large quantities of mercury become available when mercury cell chlor-alkali plants close or convert to non-mercury processes.  Capturing and storing mercury from these decommissioning chlor-alkali facilities is an efficient and cost effective way to reduce the global mercury supply because large quantities are already aggregated at one location.

Trade Restrictions & Storage Plans
                Export bans in the EU and USA, effective in 2011 and 2013 respectively, are projected to reduce the annual global supply by about 40%. Both the EU and USA are currently preparing safe storage requirements and developing storage capacity for this material. Elsewhere in the world, regional assessments of current and projected excess supply have been completed for Asia, and the Latin America/ Caribbean regions.  Options for storage are being discussed in each of these regions. Substantial work has been carried out on storage under the UNEP Mercury Storage and Supply partnership.


Relevant legislation and NGO policy work

In the EU

In 2008, the European Governments agreed on a Regulation to ban mercury export and to safely store the surplus mercury. the full work of the NGOs, as well as all relevant papers can be found in this section: EU mercury export ban and safe storage

Globally

In the US,the Mercury Export Ban Act (PDF) (8 pp, 166K, About PDF) was signed into law on October 14, 2008. The Act includes provisions on both mercury exports and long-term mercury management and storage. Because the United States is ranked as one of the world's top exporters of mercury, implementation of the act will remove a significant amount of mercury from the global market. Currently, mercury is exported from the United States to foreign countries where it has various uses, including for use in small-scale gold (artisanal) mining. This use of mercury raises worker safety and environmental emissions issues. To aid in addressing these concerns, EPA has provided expertise to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)'s Global Mercury Project's artisanal mining project, which focuses on best management practices to reduce occupational exposure, emissions and mercury use.

US NGOs Natural Resources Defense Council and Mercury Policy Project have worked hard towards have this law adopted.

In Japan, the NGO CACP in cooperation with Ban Toxics! of Philippines and the Zero Mercury Working Group have been working towards a Japanese mercury export ban. Several meetings and a symposium were organised in 2010, under a ZMWG/EEB supported project. More details about this project can be found here.

On  storage,  the ZMWG, under the UNEP Mercury Supply and Storage Partnership, has been giving substantial input on the relevant studies on the Asias and Latin America situtation, since it also was the interim lead of the partnership area. The provided input can be found here.