PNG looks to join convention


PAPUA New Guinea is launching a project to assess and strengthen its efforts in addressing issues related to the use of mercury in the country, Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) managing director Gunther Joku says.
Joku said, in a recent media statement, that the Minamata Convention recently adopted by the international community was a major step forward to address mercury exposure and improve public health.
PNG is currently participating in a two-year project which is aimed to assist PNG to becoming a party to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, he said.
The project is focused on five key areas which include; coordinating stakeholder involvement, carrying out assessment of infrastructure, capacity and legal framework on mercury, developing a mercury inventory, and conducting public awareness on mercury in the country.
“The treaty, adopted on Oct 10, 2015, in the Japanese city of Kumamoto and named after the place where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury in the mid-20th century, has now been signed by 93 countries and PNG has not yet signed the convention.”
Joku said the UN environment programme played an important role in the successful negotiation of the convention which was an important achievement for the health of people around the world. He said mercury was a significant issue in PNG because of its use in the artisanal small scale gold mining sector and the Minamata Convention also provided controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury was used, released or emitted.
He added PNG has participated in the treaty negotiations over the past four years and looked forward to addressing many of the issues with its stakeholders through the project and that mercury’s impacts on the human nervous system have been well known since Greek and Roman times.
It is known to have caused tremors, disturbances to vision, memory loss and cardiovascular problems.
The convention also addresses direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal and safe storage of waste mercury and will come into force when 50 countries have ratified it.

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