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Press Release

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 Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups
Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups PDF Print
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 13:43

PRESS RELEASE: 

Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups

Fifty environmental groups are calling on Switzerland to match their words with action by fully banning mercury exports.  

Just weeks after Switzerland held the first COP of the Minamata Convention on mercury they are considering continuing to export the dangerous neurotoxin for some allowed uses.

“Switzerland remains the weak link in Europe when it comes to allowing mercury flows to the rest of the world,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’ at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). 

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens' organizations with around 140 organisations in more than 30 countries

The EU banned exports of mercury in 2011 but the Swiss mercury trade has continued. Some 50 environmental groups have come together to call on Switzerland to stop exporting mercury.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin and exposure can cause serious health problems. 

A public consultation was launched in Switzerland last year with proposed amendments to four ordinances.  According to the FOEN website, the objective is “to ensure that recycled mercury in Switzerland is removed from the global market and stored using an environmentally sound method.” 

“Unfortunately, commercial interests are reportedly trying to convince the Swiss government to allow mercury exports dental amalgam, even though that use has been nearly phased out in Switzerland,” said Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA.  

“If Switzerland wants to be the flag bearer for the Convention, it needs to show exemplary leadership.”

Advocates point out that the Convention calls on Parties to phase down the use of dental amalgam, which Switzerland has already done.  

“We strongly urge Switzerland to reconsider implementing only a partial export ban,” Dr Shahriar Hossain, Senior Research Advisor, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh.  

“Exporting mercury specifically for dental mercury use sends a contradictory message.”

Advocates say that it may be difficult to ensure that exported mercury will only go for intended uses and that any controls will not be circumvented for financial gain, or that mercury may change hands further down the chain. With the price of mercury doubling in the last year alone, financial incentives to circumvent any informal agreements or regulations have only increased.

The Swiss Federal Council’s decision is expected tomorrow Wednesday 25 October.

ENDS

Notes for editors

References

Letter from Green Groups on Swiss Mercury Export Ban , 23 October 2017
 
https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/en/home/topics/international-affairs/news-releases.msg-id-68251.html
 
https://www.tdg.ch/geneve/actu-genevoise/geneve-fief-combat-mercure/story/29077832?track
 
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/minamata-convention_nations-meet-in-geneva-to-make-mercury-history-/43543598
 
https://chemicalwatch.com/register?o=53294&;productID=1&layout=main
 
http://www.customstoday.com.pk/switzerland-propose-wto-to-amend-its-mercury-regulations/
 
http://cop1.mercuryconvention.org/
 
www.zeromercury.org

For further information, please contact:
 
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, 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

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA, 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

Shahriar Hossain, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh, T: 880-2-912-2729 (W), 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