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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 Government leadership needed on global mercury debate, say ZMWG.
Government leadership needed on global mercury debate, say ZMWG. PDF Print
Friday, 28 January 2011 00:00
zeromercury_logoeeb_logo

 

[28 January 2011, Chiba, Japan] Delegates from more than 120 countries met this week to
continue constructing a legally- binding global mercury treaty, expected to be signed in
Minimata, Japan in 2013. While many important issues were discussed, public interest NGOs
urged delegates to be more ambitious when setting the mercury treaty’s scope and goals.
“Governments need to step up and take more leadership in this debate”, stated Linda E. Greer,
Ph.D., of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury
is a problem within our grasp to solve, but it will take political will and focus to resolve it.”

The Minamata tragedy provided a centerpiece and inspiration for discussion; Minamata victim
Shinobu Sakamoto testified in the plenary session and presented a statement from 13 Minamata
victims and supporter groups directly to the Vice Minister of the Japanese Ministry of
Environment. They urged delegates to develop a strong treaty that would prevent future
Minamata catastrophes, and to justly address the continuing effects of the Minamata disaster,
still unresolved after over 50 years.

The Japanese government also received criticism from NGOs for its continued export of tons of
toxic mercury, especially to developing countries. “Japan knows more than any country in the
world the terrible cost to life and the environment that mercury causes because of Minamata,”
stated Richard Gutierrez, of Ban Toxics from the Philippines. “Only a ban of Japanese mercury
export can begin to give honor to Minamata’s legacy.”

Measures to reduce the global supply of commodity mercury, to reduce mercury use in industry
and to restrict trade were debated. Delegates also discussed requirements to control mercury
emissions from major sources such as coal fired power plants and metal smelters and to address
existing contaminated sites. Although delegates generally agreed that the proposed basic
framework for the reductions of mercury pollution was adequate, many substantive issues remain
to be resolved to ensure that health and environmental resources are protected worldwide.

The Zero Mercury Working Group and other non-governmental organizations spoke out on
many occasions during the session, with recommendations for strengthening provisions,
including: expanding the list of mercury-based products and processes to be regulated under the
treaty, providing explicit time lines for phase outs, and strengthening provisions that address
artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the largest single use of mercury in the world, among
many others.

Several manufacturing processes using mercury completely escaped notice in the working draft,
such as polyurethanes and sodium methylate. “Since there are well-developed, high-volume
non-mercury alternatives available to produce these materials, the mercury-based processes
should be phased out,” said Rachel Kamande of the European Environmental Bureau and the
Zero Mercury Working Group.

 

Notes for the editor
Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contaminates fish supplies around the world, and poses particular risks to women and young children. The anticipated mercury treaty will address mercury pollution globally.
ZMWG comments on the Elements paper ZMWG summary of changes to the elements paper January 2011
ZMWG comments on the UNEP INC 2 Draft elements paper, FR, ES(only cover and track changes) January 2011
CONTACTS:
Rachel Kamande, Project officer ‘ Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile:+32 477 367289, www.zeromercury.org
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator 'Zero Mercury Campaign' , European Environmental Bureau/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: +32 496 532818
Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 223 9000

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 93 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from 45 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. (www.zeromercury.org)

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), www.eeb.org , is a federation of over 150 environmental citizens’ organisations based in most EU Member States, most candidate and potential candidate countries as well as in a few neighbouring countries. EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.