In 2017, the Minamata Convention (MC) on mercury (Hg) control entered into force. However, whether the MC is effective and how it reshapes the global Hg flow remain unclear. In this study, we established a method to detect inconsistencies in data on global Hg trade, and calculated the gap between the demand and supply of Hg to the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector (i.e., the largest source of Hg emissions globally) in 39 countries across four regions. According to our results, inconsistencies in statistical data concerning Hg for ASGM activities exist in both Africa and Central and South America. Asia showed a considerably lower amount of Hg applied to ASGM than apparent Hg consumption; nevertheless, the largest consumer of Hg was Asia, predominantly China and India. Many countries in which ASGM is conducted are already MC parties; however, only few submitted their national action plans (NAPs) or have established/enforced specific laws to curb Hg use in ASGM. Analysis of Hg-related trade information suggests that in 2017, the trade of metallic Hg disappeared in some African and Central and South American countries, but new trade flows of goods with higher Hg content emerged. The method established in this study can support the search for countries implementing ASGM with hidden Hg use and flows, thereby contributing to the planning of further Hg control regulations. To enforce sound Hg management, the submission of NAPs should also be promoted in addition to the expansion of MC parties.
- Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM)
- Global trade
- Minamata convention