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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 Risky Business! Phase out mercury in chlorine industry
Risky Business! Phase out mercury in chlorine industry PDF Print
Friday, 10 November 2006 01:00
eeb_logozeromercury_logo

(Brussels, 10 November 2006) – EEB today repeated its call to halt use of the ‘mercury-cell process’ in the chlorine industry. EEB, Europe's largest federation of environmental citizens' organisations, reports that every year the EU’s chlorine industry discharges tonnes of mercury into the environment, contributing to the mercury accumulated in the world’s atmosphere and mercury build-up in fish, and exposing consumers, especially pregnant women and children, to serious health risks. Since more efficient and less dangerous methods can produce chlorine without mercury, and are already available, EEB seeks the urgent abolition of factories using this harmful process.

The impact of Europe’s chlor-alkali plants is highlighted in a study for EEB by Concorde East/West Sprl. It reveals growing evidence that mercury air emissions from the EU’s chlorine plants may be significantly under-reported, by as much as five times, and might even equal emission levels from the EU’s large coal-fired power stations. EEB has also issued its own report, including independent air quality sampling results from around mercury-cell chlor-alkali factories in Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic, which found disturbingly high mercury levels around ten of the eleven plants monitored.

EEB regards the study’s findings and the monitoring results as proof that chlor-alkali plants should urgently be phased out. This accords with international agreements (OSPAR Commission’s Decision (90/3)) and the European Parliament’s March 2006 Resolution.

"We must immediately stop using mercury to produce chlorine. It’s archaic and environmentally- hazardous. Non-mercury alternatives have been commercially available since the eighties", said Elena Lymberidi, EEB’s Zero Mercury Campaign project coordinator. "The study concludes that the total cost of converting all EU mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants (MCCAPs) to mercury-free operation is far outweighed by the economic and health benefits. The mercury-cell process isn’t the ‘Best Available Technique’ (BAT) for the chlor-alkali sector under the Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control (IPPC) Directive. Authorities should therefore deny new operating permits if they don’t incorporate BAT.”

EEB has recommended to EU and national policy-makers that they:-

  • Phase out the mercury-cell process as soon as possible, and by 2010 at the latest, as part of an EU initiative or national commitment, (in contrast to industry’s 2020 commitment)
  • Safely store surplus mercury from decommissioned plants so it can’t be re-sold
  • Remove mercury contamination resulting from plant operation and waste disposal
  • Deny operating permits (under the IPPC Directive) to plants using obsolete non-BAT technology
  • Prepare full guidelines for decommissioning plants and safely storing all mercury
  • Ensure continuous, comprehensive and independently-verified monitoring of mercury emissions from plants, on-site, and at site perimeters, and full accounting for any unexplained loss of mercury from the process
  • Improved monitoring of factory workers’ and local residents’ health.

“The World Chlorine Council estimates there are some 135 mercury plants still operating around the world, of which 45-50 still operate in the EU. They represent half of Europe’s chlorine production, based on this outdated mercury-cell technology. It’s high time this changes”, said Stefan Scheuer, EEB’s EU Policy Director.


For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, EEB Zero Mercury Project Director: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301 Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

All reports are available from www.zeromercury.org