Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – A report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2020 indicated that the total value of global illegal trade in mercury reached more than 209.9 million U.S. dollars, and would increase as the gold demand rises during the pandemic.
Of this figure, more than 50 percent came from companies in the small-scale gold mining sector, especially those located in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.
Although 135 countries have agreed to reduce and eliminate this chemical element under the 2017 Minamata Convention, mercury is still widely used, one of which is through illegal trade.
Currently, the Indonesian government is hosting the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP4) of the Minamata Convention.
In a briefing session with Indonesian representatives abroad on Monday (Nov. 15) last week, Director General of Waste Toxic and Hazardous Material Management, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, said that Indonesia promotes the elimination of the illegal trade in mercury as a one of the issues discussed at COP4 Minamata.
The COP4 is held in two stages, namely the first stage virtually on November 1-5 2021, and the second stage on March 21-25, 2022 in Bali.
Mercury is barred because it is toxic and persistent.
However, through illegal trade routes, mercury could still be circulated and used, among others for cosmetic products, batteries, and in small-scale gold mining where the workers are dominated by young people and women.
Reporting by Indonesia Window