A delegation from 7 West African countries visited two mercury-related industries in Switzerland in the context of the implementation of their Minamata Convention Initial Assesments

A delegation from 7 West African countries visited two mercury-related industries in Switzerland in the context of the implementation of their Minamata Convention Initial Assesments

After the almost complete finalization of the MIAs reports, the different countries involved in the project suggested their interest in participating in a study tour to learn about the best available technologies on mercury waste management and on how the gold global value chain can be linked to artisanal miners in a region such as West Africa. UNIDO consequently organized a study tour on Switzerland, where the delegates benefited from knowledge sharing and on site learning.

On Tuesday 19th June, a meeting organized by UNIDO focused on presentations about mercury waste management and the ASGM global value chain. During the meeting, Dr. Nathalie Roebbels, from the World Health Organization (WHO) informed the audience about artisanal gold mining communities and professionals in the health sector are exposed to health problems related to the exposition of mercury as well as how medical devices containing mercury should be safely disposed. Mr. Jakob Maag, from United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) explained the main figures on mercury emissions and mercury releases obtained from the inventories in the different countries. Finally, Ms. Isabelle Baudin, from the Federal Office of the Environment, Government of Switzerland (FOEN) described what is the current legal framework of mercury waste management in the country, and how the collection and recycling systems is implemented nationwide.

Finally, the representatives of the Ministry of Mines and the countries’ Minamata Convention Focal Points presented their views on the implementation of the MIAs in their respective countries. Some common opinions were agreed during the lively discussion, among others the need of an adequate dissemination of the problems related with mercury use within locally exposed populations. In addition the countries exposed their willingness to continue working in the field of mercury abatement with the support of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and UNIDO.

On Wednesday 20th June, the delegation conducted a facility visit of Batrec Industries AG in their factory located in Wimmis. The delegates were hosted by Mr. Dieter Offenthaler and Mr. Philippe Zanettin, who firstly, explained the industrial processed applied during the stabilization and storage of waste containing mercury and later guided a tour through their premises.

On Thursday 21st June, the delegates visited Mendrisio, where Argor Heraeus, a gold refining enterprise, is located. Mr. Phaedon Stamatopoulos, emphasized the efforts made by Argor Heraeus to bring artisanal and small scale gold miners to the international gold value chains, increasing their formalization while effectively reducing the amount of mercury use to extract gold. Mr. Stamatopoulos also highlighted the MOU signed by UNIDO and Argor Heraeus in order to promote better practices in the gold value chain. The day concluded with a visit to the premises, where the delegates could appreciate the different processes related to industrial gold refining.

For further information, please contact:

Jérôme Stucki

UNIDO Industrial Development Officer

Email

Region / Country