As per Article 1 of UN's Minamata Convention on Mercury which is aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury is open for signature till 9 October 2014.
It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on 19 January 2013.
The major highlights of the Minamata Convention on Mercury include:
- a ban on new mercury mines,
- the phase-out of existing ones,
- control measures on air emissions,
- and the international regulation of the informal sector for artisanal and small-scale GOLD mining.
The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous heavy 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.
The control of the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle is a key factor that led to the framing of the convention.
Mercury and mercury compounds are toxic to humans and other organisms. Large-scale public health crises has been witnessed due to mercury poisoning, such as Minamata disease and Niigata Minamata disease.
The Convention will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 nations.
The Parties agreed in Article 8 to control and “where feasible” reduce emissions of mercury and mercury compounds, (i.e. “total mercury”) to the atmosphere through measures to control emissions from point source categories such as coal-fired power stations and non-ferrous metal smelters (e.g. aluminium smelters).