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

Indonesia

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