“Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention, with a focus on developing strategies to implement product phase–out provisions and national action plans for artisanal and small scale gold mining, in four African countries”

July 2014 - December 2017

Executive Summary

Relevance and achievement of results

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxic metal that is now ubiquitous in the global environment due to decades of unchecked anthropogenic releases. Primarily through widespread releases from coal-fired power plants, waste disposal, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), and other sources, mercury pollutes soils, waterways, seafood and people.

To significantly reduce exposure to mercury, coordinated international action is needed. The Minamata Convention on Mercury reflects the world’s willingness to control use, trade storage, supply and emissions of mercury. The Convention entered into force on August 16th, 2017, has been signed by 128 countries and ratified by 91 (March 2018), with the African continent leading with 25 country ratifications.

With funding provided by the European Commission (EC) through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the project, “Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention, with a focus on developing strategies to implement product phase–out provisions and national action plans for artisanal and small scale gold mining, in four African countries” has reached a successful conclusion with encouraging and concrete results.

The project was managed by the European Environmental Bureau, in collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), (hereafter referred to as EEB/ZMWG). Project partners were the Mercury Policy Project and Natural Resources Defense Council as resource organizations, groundwork South Africa as regional advisor, and Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev-Nigeria), pesticide Action Network (PANeM) in Mauritius; AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development (Agenda-Tanzania) and Friends of the Nation (FoN Ghana) as local partners.

The project focused on reducing mercury use in ASGM in Ghana and Tanzania, and on mercury-added product phase-out in Mauritius and Nigeria. ASGM and products were chosen as thematic areas for the project because of the prominence of these mercury sources in the African Region. Globally ASGM accounts for 35% of anthropogenic airborne emissions of mercury, and mercury-added products represent the 3rd largest sector in terms of demand/consumption after ASGM and Vinyl Chloride Monomer production.

The project aimed to provide country stakeholders with a better understanding, experience and direction on their overall Convention ratification and obligations via-a-vis the two project thematic areas. Overall, the project has been well-received by governments and has contributed to informing and solidifying relationships among the many stakeholders who must contribute to the successful implementation of the relevant Convention provisions. The project was welcomed as an integral part of wider national preparations for ratification and early implementation of the Convention. In particular, as a result of our project, our local NGO partners are integral members of the national Steering Committees of the MIA projects in their respective countries, and are also part of the NAP development teams in Ghana and Tanzania.

On phasing out mercury added products, the project:

  • Engaged with the Ministry of the Environment and relevant stakeholders: Project Advisory Committees (PACs) involving relevant ministries/organisations, were constituted to inform and advise the project; a larger group of product related stakeholders were identified; and inception and final workshops were organised in both pilot countries.
  • Assisted governments with drafting National roadmaps towards phasing out mercury added products: The project developed a ZMWG checklist and guide, including steps governments can follow to create a phase-out roadmap; the two pilot countries, Nigeria and Mauritius used the guide to draft their national roadmaps; the guide and checklist were presented at our regional workshop on products; and 29 African governments and Jamaica, plus over ten other Caribbean islands, have used the checklist and guide to develop their first draft roadmaps to phase out mercury added products.
  • Further developed and implemented several of the steps identified in the checklist in the two pilot countries; specifically, the project produced:
    • A study looking at the transition of the national market towards Convention compliant products;
    • A legal gap analysis vis-à-vis the Article 4 requirements: in collaboration with the government of Mauritius,
    • Draft laws to meet Art. 4 requirements

A commitment was expressed by both countries to sustain efforts towards phasing out mercury added products through continuation of Product Advisory Committees and their work plans as well as furthering support for draft legislation to move forward to phase out products by 2020.

On the development of the ASGM National Action Plans (NAPs), the project:

  • Conducted initial stakeholder outreach and consultation through two-day workshops to better inform stakeholders about the Minamata Convention and its requirements.
  • Conducted research and created background documents profiling the status of the ASGM sector in Tanzania and Ghana.
  • Conducted intensive consultations with mining communities where miners were informed about the Convention and its requirements, while simultaneously providing a platform where miners could provide their valuable input to structure the NAP.
  • Created a step-by-step guide for conducting miner consultations that can be used for further engagement in the two pilot countries or by any other country developing a NAP.
  • Developed recommendations for the NAP, based on the research and consultations, including: measures on formalisation; potential measures to discourage the most harmful ASGM practices and reduce mercury consumption and releases; and education and outreach to the mining communities.
  • Provided training for NGO partners on Baseline Mercury Inventories from international mining experts, contributing to the local NGOs capacity building and ensuring their future contributions to the development of the NAPs.
  • Built capacity of national small-scale mining associations through a series of workshops.
  • The lessons learned, experiences, deliverables and tools developed by the project were presented at two regional conferences held from the 22nd to 26th May, in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with UN Environment. These conferences focused on phasing out mercury-added products and on reducing mercury use in ASGM. In total, over 70 representatives from 29 African governments and Jamaica, UN agencies, NGOs, academics, and private sector took part in the conferences.

    Project partners participated actively at regional meetings, the sixth and seventh Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meetings and in the First Conference of the Parties (COP1) for the Minamata Convention. They provided input to negotiations, interacted with stakeholders and governments, and presented the project results on different occasions. ZMWG members also attended and gave presentations during a series of eleven UNEP workshops around the world, to support ratification and early implementation of the Convention.

    Overall, the project has also contributed to raising awareness about Convention obligations among various stakeholders, government agencies and officials, NGOs, traders, miners and other relevant parties. Three (Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria) out of the four project countries have now ratified the Treaty.


    Total number of beneficiaries reached were estimated to be 235 in Nigeria, 165 in Mauritius, 570 in Ghana, and over 1000 in Tanzania. Over 500 stakeholders were also reached via our regional conferences and our active participation at international meetings. Beneficiaries included government representatives, product related stakeholders (traders, importers, manufacturers, users), UN and other IGO agencies, experts, consultants, miners and NGOs. Over 300 persons from governments, UN and IGO agencies and NGOs, were reached via our regional conferences and participation at INC/COP.


    Overall, the results of the project are sustainable because our work was done in tandem with governments and local NGOs who were involved and aware of the project outcomes and deliverables. Our project deliverables have been embraced by the governments who are using or have agreed to use them to continue implementation of the relevant Convention provisions. They have also been disseminated to and used by over 40 African and Caribbean governments.