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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero

For more information, see:




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 "> 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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on reporting, please contact 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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*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.


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