Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) productions account for over 60 per cent of global mercury consumption. Other sources of mercury emissions are coal combustion, primary non-ferrous metal production, and cement-clinker production. Once emitted or released, mercury persists in the environment where it circulates between air, water, sediments, soil and living creatures. It can travel long distances to areas far from any production or use. Scientific evidence on the dangers of mercury exposure on human health and the environment has mounted for decades and is compelling.
While efforts to reduce mercury exposure are already underway, thanks to global actions such as the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, the challenge is that mercury is still part of many of our everyday processes (mining, metal and cement production, burning of waste), and products (batteries, pesticides, medical devices and cosmetics). Therefore, mercury-containing products are not only direct sources of exposure but also contribute to mercury emissions and releases due to their production and poor waste management practices.
In some countries, legal mercury imports for registered uses such as dental amalgams are below the estimates of mercury consumption, which indicate that there are illicit mercury trade flows. Therefore, trade and economic solutions for better regulating the flow of mercury are critical to reducing registered mercury use and its way into illegal uses. Due diligence processes in supply chains play an important role not only in preventing and governing illicit trade of mercury-added products but also in eliminating and reducing the availability of mercury in the global supply chain. Above the responsibilities of the industry partners, international and regional cooperation is needed to ensure a formalised and unified action against the illegal trade of mercury and mercury-added products.
The Global Forum on Environment on Mercury brought together leading actors in the field of chemicals and waste management of mercury to promote effective engagement, collaboration and action on eliminating or reducing mercury from the supply chain. This included regulators and policymakers in charge of chemical safety in OECD member and partner governments, as well as relevant stakeholders from International Governmental Organisations, private industry organisations and companies, civil society, philanthropies and more.
Session 1 - Keynote speeches: Issues and challenges
Session 2.2 - Trade solutions
Session 2.3 - Public and civil society actions
2.4. Due diligence in gold and mercury supply chains
2.5. Economic solutions: economic incentives and financing - Part 1
2.5. Economic solutions: economic incentives and financing - Part 2