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Mercury In Small-Scale Gold Mining: What The Minimata Convention Really Says

Tuesday January 22, 2013

Along the UNEP press realease, the Minimata Convention -"named after a city in Japan where serioous damage occurred as a result of a mercury pollution in the mid-20th century"- signed on January 19 in Geneva delivers "a significant boost with governments agreeing to a global, legally-binding treaty to prevent [mercury] emissions and releases".

As far as small-scale gold mining is concerned, the Minimata Convention signatories made a small but pragamatic step towards a global banning of mercury in mining, acknowledging that a full compliance will take time and will require support from the governments:
  • "Governements agreed that the treaty will require countries to draw up strategies to reduce the amount of mercury used by smal-scale miners
  • Nations with artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations will draw up national plans with thre years of the treaty entering into force to reduce and if possible eliminate the use f mercury in such operations
  • Public awareness campaigns and support for mercury-free alternatives will also be part of the plans"

One Day After The New Global Treaty On Mercury

Sunday January 20, 2013

The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5) held in Geneva, Switzerland finally adopted on January 9 a global treaty on mercury. This marks the end of a four years process involving more than140 countries; four years of difficult negotiation along which were bargained facts, figures and dates.

Coal-fired power stations are now asked to stop releasing mercury in the atmosphere and gold mining have to make sure no mercury is release during the gold separation process.

This is an important step that undoubtedly goes in the right direction. However, the transition towards a mercury-free small scale gold mining will take time and will require on the long term a strong technical and economic support for the local miners and their families to comply with this new regulation. Let's hope the 140 signatories are on the same page about this.

ICMGP 2013 Organisers Build On Mercury Regulation Momentum

Sunday January 13, 2013

As noted by the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) organizers: "Mercury is moving towards the top of the agenda for regulatory bodies and interest from the public domain is growing".

"Science informing global policy" is the theme chosen for the 11th edition of this international events, which usually gathers 700 to 1200 experts; a meaningful choice which directly relates to the present Mercury Regulation Momentum.

"The ICMGP in 2013 will be of particular public importance as this will be the year of the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme Global Legally Binding Treaty on Mercury. The ICMGP 2013 meeting is therefore perfectly timed to celebrate the official launch of the treaty and to discuss how to put the treaty into practice", said the ICMGP website.

The 11th ICMGP International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland from July 28th - August 2nd 2013.

Next INC5 To Issue A Global Ban On Mercury?

Sunday January 13, 2013

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) started to build on the EU and US banning strategies for mercury in 2009.

At date, five rounds of negotiation named "Sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee" (or INC) were successively held between the Governing Council partners.

The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 13 to 18 January 2013.

A global ban decision is unlikely to happen in Geneva thought this session is supposed to launch the UNEP Global Legally Binding Treaty on Mercury. The Governing Council partners might more easily agree on a promoting plan of the mercury-free alternatives, especially targeting the artisanal small-scale gold miners.

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