The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on mercury in Geneva, Switzerland at 7 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, 19 January 2013 and adopted later that year on 10 October 2013 at a Diplomatic Conference (Conference of Plenipotentiaries), held in Kumamoto, Japan following on 9 October, 2014 in United Nations Office in New York.
The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been a key factor in shaping the obligations under the Convention.
Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.
The Minamata Convention contains some control and mitigation measures for mercury-containing, released or emitted products, processes and industries and their mercury-containing wastes. Within the scope of the convention, Parties will be mandatory
- To prohibit production, import and export of some mercury-containing products by 2020 and effectively eliminate their waste,
- To establish strategies to reduce the amount and release of mercury used,
- To reduce emissions from large industrial plants and reduce emissions, it will be necessary to use the Best Available Technologies for new installations within certain times, and for existing plants to reduce emissions within a specific plan.