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The Minamata Convention – what does it really mean for ASGM?

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Post by Susan Keane, AGC Board of Directors, NRDC Senior Environmental Analyst (http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/skeane/) It has been over a decade since the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) first sounded the alarm about the transboundary nature of mercury pollution, and four years since the nations of the world started negotiating a treaty to tackle this global problem. Finally, this past  January, in the wee hours of a snowy morning in Geneva, the 140+ member countries of UNEP finally agreed on the text of an agreement, to be named the Minamata Convention once it is officially signed in that Japanese city in October.


The very existence of a multilateral environment agreement of any kind, in this age of global discord, is itself a minor miracle.  Also notable is the fact that mercury use in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) merited its very own Article in the treaty. This tacit acknowledgment of the importance of ASGM in the global mercury picture is a far cry f…