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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 PROJECTS International projects
Indonesia PDF Print
Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:30


Coordinating NGO for EEB/ZMWG funded projects: Balifokus

Contact details: Yuyun Ismawati

2012 Project title:   Sustainable ASGM Practices - Workshop on Sustainable ASGM Practices, Mataram • Indonesia • 9-11 February 2012

Summary of the project/report

ASGM practices found in all regions in Indonesia with a general similar pattern. A discovery of gold deposit attracts gold prospectors, miners and non-miners from various areas, using cheap but destructive gold-extraction technology with mercury and cyanide followed by amalgamation and open burning. In parallel, after the prevalence of small-scale mining, the people who used to reject the presence of large-scale mining operations became more accepting as they gain direct benefit from the activities regardless the negative long term impact to their health, local socio-economic and the environment. Mining activities always produce irreversible negative environmental impact. Small-scale mining appear profitable to the people, but comes at a higher cost than the selling price of gold, in the form of health, environmental and social hazard. When the practice of illegal ASGM have grown to involve a large number of people, it is more difficult for law enforcement to curb the practice. Many local government categorised ASGM as illegal activities but could not stop the practices for various reasons. The best option for the long term ‘sustainable’ ASGM practices is to improve the current mining activities, develop proper community mining management and technical plan and capacity building, and prepare the shift of people’s livelihood from mining to other or alternative livelihoods such as from agriculture, fisheries and forestry. However, with the limitations and reality on the ground, closing-down operations and outreach programs are often only successful in the short term. From previous experience, the problem remained, even escalated in the last ten years.

Therefore, concerted control efforts are needed, in form of limiting and eventually eliminating the supply and distribution of mercury, training people to switch to non-mercury techniques and provide a special area for regulated community mining. The momentum of sharply increasing price of mercury should be seized to reduce the reliance of small-scale miners on mercury. The capacity of health care practitioners to handle mercury poisoning cases and educate people on matters of mercury hazard need to be increased, improved and conducted in scale and systematic way. Research on remediation of contaminated land should be continued with more options to clean up the contaminated soil and water as well as the final process and disposal plant.

Mercury-free ASGM techniques are already available and relatively cheap, but the implementation need to be adapted and adjusted to the characteristics of the local ores and the miners/community’s current practices. One of the solutions can be reached by conducting miners-to-miners training coupled with the formalization process. The effort must be guided by a national policy towards elimination of mercury in ASGM, localise the ASGM activities within the designated Community Mining Areas, midterm plan of transitional livelihood, clean up and remediation plan and long term rehabilitation strategy. Synergy is needed, not just by district/local governments and the Ministry of Environment, but also other departments such as the Mining and Energy, Trade, Health and Social Welfare. Caution must be exercised when choosing to formalize and legalize small-scale mining so as not to clash with existing laws, especially on forestry and environment.

Status:  completed, Final report