Zimbabwe has ratified the Minamata Convention banning the use of mercury in mining and regulatory measures for its release from industrial equipment like boilers, incinerators and power stations among others.
The convention was ratified following a motion moved by Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu in the National Assembly before its adjournment for the year last week.
The Minamata convention on mercury was adopted at the Fifth Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on 19 January, 2013 is a global treaty whose objective is to protect human health and environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
Zimbabwe becomes the 116th country to ratify the Treaty and the 51st in Africa.
“Mercury is a toxic pollutant that can circulate globally through the oceans and the atmosphere for years or even decades, and can cause significant harm to human health and the environment, sometimes very far from its point of origin. Acute or chronic exposure can be fatal; the World Health Organisation lists it as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern,” Minister Ndlovu said.
The ratification of the Treaty will also result in the ban on the manufacture, import and export of products that use mercury,exchange of information on relevant new technological developments, economically and technically feasible mercury and mercury compounds in manufacturing between State parties; the ability by States to register for exemptions; the management of mercury waste in an environmentally sound manner and the ability to cooperate with other States, relevant inter-governmental organisations and other entities in order to develop and maintain global, regional and national capacity of the management of such wastes and the promotion and facilitation of public information dissemination, awareness and education on the health and environmental effects of mercury as well as alternatives.
Zimbabwe’s most significant mercury sources are from artisanal small scale gold mining production, dental amalgam and waste water treatment. The country’s mercury use is already strictly controlled under a number of legislations.