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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 EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2...
EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2016) on the report on mercury by the MEP Rapporteur Eck, GUE, DE PDF Print
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 13:19

 



EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2016) on the report on mercury by the MEP Rapporteur Eck, GUE, DE

The Rapporteur presented his report which strengthens the European Commission’s proposal and goes well beyond the Minamata Convention.

The shadow rapporteurs presented their views: Michel Dantin (EPP), Massimo Paolucci (S&D), Julie Girling (ECR), Anneli Jaatteenmaki (ALDE), Michele Rivasi (Greens), Mireille D’Ornano (ENF). Other MEPs intervened including Auyso, Florenz, Mikolasik, Grossetete (all from EPP).

This is asummary on the views expressed as above on the main technical issues:

  1. The export ban should be expanded to include a wider list of mercury compounds. This was supported by GUE, but not all parties expressed views on this.

  2. A full import ban on mercury was supported by GUE, the Greens; ALDE and S&D supported a full import ban unless the mercury in question is destined for disposal. The EPP and ECR would support the EC’s approach (import ban only from non-Parties to the Convention, or under specific conditions).

  3. The export ban on mercury-added products should be aligned with the restrictions applied within the EU - this view was supported by GUE, S&D, the Greens, ALDE, the EPP and ECR as well as the EC expressed concerns against this approach.

  4. Mercury in dentistry should be phased out as soon as possible, and for children and pregnant women even sooner. This was supported by GUE, S&D, the Greens and the ECR. Concerns were raised about the scientific evidence supporting such a decision by the EPP, ALDE and the EC.

  5. Mercury used in processes including alchoholates needs to be phased out. This was generally supported by all parties, though there may be some concerns since not all parties expressed their views on this.

  6. Liquid mercury waste needs to be solidified before disposal. This was supported by all parties. Some difference of opinion still exists on whether the solidified product should be disposed in salt mines (GUE, S&D) or in above ground facilities (Greens). EPP representative had split views on this last point.

  7. The temporary storage of mercury waste for a few years will be needed considering the available capacity for solidification/stabilization. This was also supported by all parties

The EEB is very happy to see that all parties expressed the need to strengthen the EU regulation. Such an approach will allow the EU to keep its leadership position and to adequately ensure the protection of human health and the environment while sending a clear and unequivocal signal to other countries working towards the same objectives.

The message is also very clear with respect to the export of mercury-added products. Most parties agreed that double standards should be avoided to ensure that these products do not end up in countries with no or less stringent regulations for the management of mercury. Since alternatives exist, such a measure will promote mercury-free markets and drive mercury free product prices down.

A rather strong message was also echoed with respect to the use of mercury in dental amalgams. It seems that most parties are in favour of a phase out since this is the most cost-effective way to prevent dental mercury pollution. Mercury-free dental restorations are available, affordable, effective and preferred by most EU citizens.

It seems to be also clear that no liquid mercury waste should be disposed of before it is first solidified/stabilized, a step to the right direction for safer handling and disposal.

For more information:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, 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 , T:+32 2 2891301

EEB full comments http://bit.ly/29Lb8zl , NGOs letter on phasing out mercury from dentistry http://bit.ly/29Albrr, Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry http://bit.ly/29urWGh