Guyana recommits to mercury-free mining
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…as Minamata Convention comes into force

ON Wednesday August 16, 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury came into force and in keeping with its commitment obligations, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana will be represented at the first Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention to be held from September 24 – 29, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Minamata Convention is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. Mercury is used in the gold mining industry and can be a threat to human health and the environment.

The GoG signed on to the Minamata Convention on October 10, 2013 and ratified it on September 24, 2014. Guyana was one of the first countries to sign on to the legally binding agreement and had done so with the full support of the mining sector, mainly members of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Guyana Women Miners’ Organisation (GWMO) following consultations. Further, Guyana is among the first countries to ratify the Convention.

In a statement, the Ministry of Natural resources said that having done that, the government has taken a number of proactive steps, one of which was the putting together a National Working Group to guide the development of a National Action Plan, which is in the final stages of preparation. Among the actors on the National Working Group are regulatory agencies and Government Ministries such as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Gold Board, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Pesticide and Toxic Chemical Control Board, The Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Health, Guyana Human Rights Association, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs. Comprising the body also were funding partners WWF-Guianas, CI-Guyana and the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP).

To support these efforts, the United Nations Development Programme funded the Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) which looked at the institutional capacity and legal framework in place for the successful implementation of the Minamata Convention. Among the reports resulting from this project were: MIA Analysis of Existing National Regulatory Framework; National Mercury Profile Report; Knowledge Attitudes and Practice (KAP) study – Socio-Economic Analyst for the MIA; Communication Strategy and Implementation Plan for Mercury Phase-Out in Guyana; Strategies for the Mainstreaming of National Mercury Priority Interventions in national Policies and plans and the Minamata Initial Assessment Report.

These reports all form a compendium of information which has informed the National Action Plan.

Further, case studies from Guyana will be used to demonstrate best practices that could be achieved in the gold mining sector. WWF-Guianas also supported Guyana in the development of a National Action Plan for the phasing out of mercury use in the mining sector by 2027.

The Government recently engaged Conservation International Guyana on the Eldorado Gold Mining Initiative to advance green development of the mining sector by focusing on phasing out mercury use by engaging actors within the gold mining supply chain. The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission is piloting a number of mercury-free technologies in the fields.

The Ministry of Natural Resources acknowledges the sterling contributions of WWF-Guianas, CI-Guyana and the UNDP in getting the country to this stage and for their continued technical and financial support as we seek to eliminate the use of mercury.

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