|Mercury Trade, Supply and Storage|
|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
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.
Trade Restrictions & Storage Plans
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
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.
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.