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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 Trouble in store. EU must safely manage excess mercury.
Trouble in store. EU must safely manage excess mercury. PDF Print
Tuesday, 12 June 2007 01:00

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(Brussels, 12 June, 2007) – June is a key month in the campaign to protect the world from the scourge of highly toxic mercury. Anti-mercury campaigners throughout Europe urged EU decision- makers to ensure excess mercury is held in secure, constantly monitored sites. On 13 June, the EU countries’ Permanent Representatives will discuss the proposal in preparation for a possible agreement at the Environment Council on 28 June, and the European Commission will present its opinion on amendments proposed by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, before Parliament votes on the issue on 19-20 June.

“The Environment Ministers’ Council, the Commission and Parliament must get in step with Parliament’s Environment Committee”, said Elena Lymberidi of EEB’s Zero Mercury campaign. “All three institutions must agree soon on requiring the safe and constantly-monitored temporary storage of surplus mercury stocks. There is no ‘bury and forget’ option: the only safe solution for the moment is to keep a constant eye on this pernicious substance, since as yet there are no safe final disposal methods available.”

Campaigners fear that unless the necessary steps are taken, individual EU governments might try to dispose of highly volatile liquid mercury in unsafe places like old mines, where there is a strong risk of its leaching out over time into water supplies and the air. A European Directive which prohibits final disposal of liquid waste in landfills has been in place since 1999.

Campaigners also want to see a ban on exporting mercury compounds and mercury-containing items whose sale is banned in the EU.

“It’s not just a question of controlling pure mercury”, said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm. ”If the export ban doesn’t include mercury compounds or mercury-containing products which are already banned from sale in Europe, we’ll be overlooking a major source of Europe’s contribution to global mercury contamination”. Compounds represent a high proportion of the world’s mercury use, and mercury can be profitably recovered from compounds including calomel, mercuric oxide, mercuric chloride and other organo-mercury compounds.

NGOs in developing countries are very concerned. “Historically, when a hazardous product is restricted, phased-out or banned in Europe, it’s often exported to developing countries where awareness of the problem is often relatively low, and regulations and/or enforcement are often lax or non-existent”, said Veronica Odriozola, Director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America.

 

For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign:, www.zeromercury.org, www.eeb.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301; Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance / Health Care Without Harm Europe: www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text56891 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 234 3645

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer, EEB: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

Notes for editors:-

Letter to Commissioners: NGOs call for a wide reaching mercury export ban and safe storage of surplus mercury, [8 June 2007] http://www.zeromercury.org/EU_developments/070608NGOsletterto%20Commissioners.pdf

Letter to Environment Ministers: NGOs call for a wide reaching mercury export ban and safe storage of surplus mercury, [6 June 2007]

http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070606NGOs'%20Letter%20to%20Env%20Mins%20Export%20B an.pdf