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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 Merury still rising! World governments fail to agree on global regulations
Merury still rising! World governments fail to agree on global regulations PDF Print
Friday, 09 February 2007 01:00
zeromercury_logoeeb_logomercury_policy_logoNRDC_logosierra_club_logo

(Nairobi, - 9 February 2007) Anti-mercury advocates conditionally welcomed the results of the 24th United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council meeting in Nairobi on 5-9 February. “Environment Ministers failed to set global demand reduction goals and export bans to reduce impacts of mercury around the world,” said Michael Bender, from the Zero Mercury coalition. “The steps they agreed on are inadequate to address the urgency of the global mercury crisis.”

The amount of mercury used and released in the world is increasing. Since UNEP’s Global Mercury Assessment report was released in 2002, overall reductions in mercury use worldwide have not taken place.i Mercury use has gone down in industrialised nations, but developing countries have become increasingly reliant on this toxic metal. Air releases have also increased over the past 15 years (see charts belowii).

“Once again, a few countries led by US and India delayed real progress, whereas the EU, the African Region, Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, Norway and Switzerland were ready to make a political decision on a legally binding instrument as the way forward,” said Elena Lymberidi from the European Environmental Bureau. “Instead, we have a process to consider options including enhanced voluntary measures, rather than focusing only on a legally binding framework, in the next Governing Council in 2009. We must finally move beyond promising words into real action.”

“These are baby steps, while giant steps are needed!” said Zuleica Nycz , ACPO, Brazil, “Not having a legally binding instrument means that developing countries will not have the necessary incentive to develop national programmes or policies to protect their people from toxic mercury.”

There were some small positive developments:

o Priorities were identified to reduce risks from emissions, demand, and supply of mercury, as well as from contaminated sites.

o There was a call to fill data gaps on supply and demand

o An air emissions report will be developed

o An ad hoc open ended working group will be formed to further discuss priorities and options for reducing supply, demand and emissions. The group will report back to the 25th Governing Council.

The NGOs now call on governments to engage in good faith in this newly agreed process to pave the way towards a legally-binding agreement, with the necessary financial assistance and explicit reduction goals.

Notes to editors:-

Mercury is a potent nerve poison and affects the brain and central nervous system. Workers exposed to mercury, eg small-scale gold miners, often suffer from tremors, memory loss and other neurological damage. Those most at risk from methylmercury-contaminated food are babies and small children. The brains of babies in the uterus are the most vulnerable. The greatest risk is to young women, before or during pregnancy, eating fish containing high levels of methylmercury (eg shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and some types of tuna) or miners being exposed during gold mining.

In 2002, UNEP’s own Global Mercury Assessment concluded that: “Despite data gaps, sufficient understanding has been developed of mercury (including knowledge of its fate and transport, health and environmental impacts, and the role of human activity), based on extensive research over half a century, that international actions to address the global mercury problem should not be delayed.” (GMA, key findings, #35, see: http://www.chem.unep.ch/Mercury/Report/Key-findings.htm).


For more information please see:

  • the special report in preparation of the 24 UNEP GC:

“NGO Strategy for Addressing the “Global Mercury Crisis” at the February 2007 UNEP Governing Council Meeting

http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEP_developments/070130NGOs_addressing_Global_Mercury_ Crisis_for_2007_U N EP_GC.pdf

graph1-2

Footnotes:-

i Both available in a single document at http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/Trade-information.htm

ii Figure 1 is derived from the recently published UNEP mercury trade report prepared for the 5-9 February 2007 Governing Council meeting, and indicates global mercury use has changed little since 1994 as the developed world exports its excess mercury and outdated technologies to the developing world. Figure 2 is based on the work of Jozef Pacyna and his colleagues, and illustrates that atmospheric mercury releases have actually increased, from sources such as coal combustion, smelting of metal ores (particularly zinc and copper), chlor-alkali plants, and waste handling/disposal of products containing mercury.

For more information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau : Tel: +32 (0)2 2891301;

Mobile: +32 (0)496 532818 ;Email : 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, Mercury Policy Project: Tel: +1 802 223 9000; Email:, www.mercurypolicy.org Linda Greer, Natural Resources Defense Council, Tel:+1 202 289 6868; Email:, www.nrdc.org Eric Uram, Sierra Club, T: +1 608 347-8008, www.sierraclub.org