Con­cerns on mer­cury pol­lu­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

MER­CURY and mer­cury com­pounds have long been known to be toxic to hu­mans, other or­gan­isms and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Con­sid­er­ing that mer­cury in­creases in con­cen­tra­tion at each feed­ing level (bioac­cu­mu­lates) in the ecosys­tem, its ad­verse im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment were ev­i­dent in coun­tries like Ja­pan caus­ing the Mi­na­mata dis­ease as well as the Ni­igata Mi­na­mata dis­ease.

The neg­a­tive im­pacts of mer­cury gave rise to the pro­mul­ga­tion of the Mi­na­mata Con­ven­tion on Mer­cury of Oc­to­ber 2013.

The con­ven­tion is an in­ter­na­tional treaty de­signed to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment from an­thro­pogenic emis­sions and re­leases of mer­cury and mer­cury com­pounds.

The con­ven­tion was a re­sult of in­ter­na­tional ac­tion aimed at man­ag­ing mer­cury in an ef­fi­cient, ef­fec­tive and co­her­ent man­ner, while mem­ber states work to­wards the sub­se­quent re­duc­tion in the use of mer­cury and adop­tion of tech­nolo­gies to sub­sti­tute the use of mer­cury.

Mile­stone has been achieved glob­ally in the med­i­cal in­dus­try where the use dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has sub­sti­tuted mer­cury in the case of ther­mome­ters.

Zim­babwe is one of the 128 coun­tries, which signed the con­ven­tion and is work­ing to­wards rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

The doc­u­ment obliges mem­ber states to en­sure there is in­formed con­sent from the re­ceiv­ing state in re­la­tion to the trade in mer­cury or mer­cury based prod­ucts.

Trade in mer­cury or mer­cury based prod­ucts will be re­stricted to al­lowed pur­poses un­der the in­stru­ment and also do­mes­tic law, and only in quan­ti­ties needed for those pur­poses.

In the min­ing sec­tor there is a need for the devel­op­ment and adop­tion of sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies to ex­tract gold in prepa­ra­tion for the sub­se­quent re­duc­tion in the use of mer­cury.

Once rat­i­fied, the main ben­e­fit of the doc­u­ment is that it will be a ref­er­ence point or pro­vide di­rec­tion on how na­tional leg­is­la­tion can be de­vel­oped to tackle the on-go­ing prob­lem of con­trol­ling the use and in­flux of mer­cury into the coun­try and pre­vent the pos­si­bil­ity of Zim­babwe be­ing a dump­ing ground of such haz­ardous sub­stances.

Min­ers are at risk since they do not use ap­pro­pri­ate per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment when han­dling mer­cury.

They fur­ther put com­mu­ni­ties sur­round­ing min­ing ar­eas at risk when the openly burn the mer­cury-gold amal­gam to re­cover the gold.

The haz­ardous sub­stance is not well la­belled and min­ers lack knowl­edge on the health risk as­so­ci­ated with ex­po­sure to mer­cury con­sid­er­ing that its ef­fect is not acute but chronic.

Emerg­ing ev­i­dence in­di­cate that ar­ti­sanal and small-scale gold min­ing re­lated mer­cury con­tam­i­na­tion in Africa is con­tribut­ing to se­ri­ous health and eco­log­i­cal im­pacts and has raised con­cern among en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists.

UNEP es­ti­mates that 3, 5 mil­lion peo­ple are at risk of health im­pacts in ar­ti­sanal and small-scale gold min­ing sec­tor of which 2, 5 mil­lion are in Africa.

The health ef­fects hu­mans

The mer­cury in house­hold prod­ucts is trapped and usu­ally does not cause any health prob­lems.

How­ever, when a ther­mome­ter breaks, a sig­nif­i­cantly high ex­po­sure to mer­cury through breath­ing will oc­cur for a short pe­riod of time while it va­por­ises. of mer­cury on

This can cause harm­ful ef­fects, such as nerve, brain and kid­ney dam­age, lung ir­ri­ta­tion, eye ir­ri­ta­tion, skin rashes, vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea.

Mer­cury has a num­ber of ef­fects on hu­mans that can all of them be sim­pli­fied into the fol­low­ing main ef­fects: Dis­rup­tion of the ner­vous sys­tem Dam­age to brain func­tions DNA and chro­mo­so­mal dam­age Al­ler­gic re­ac­tions, re­sult­ing in skin rashes, tiredness and headaches

Neg­a­tive re­pro­duc­tive ef­fects, such as sperm dam­age, birth de­fects and mis­car­riages

Dam­aged brain func­tions can cause degra­da­tion of learn­ing abil­i­ties, per­son­al­ity changes, tremors, vi­sion changes, deaf­ness, and mus­cle in co­or­di­na­tion and mem­ory loss.

Chro­mo­so­mal dam­age is known to cause Down syn­drome. Most peo­ple can con­tinue to look to fish as a healthy, low fat source of pro­tein and other nu­tri­ents.

How­ever, preg­nant women, women who may be­come preg­nant within the next sev­eral years, chil­dren less than six years old and peo­ple who con­sume un­usu­ally large quan­ti­ties of fresh­wa­ter fish, may be im­paired by mer­cury.

What Zim­babwe has done to­wards rat­i­fy­ing the Mi­na­mata Con­ven­tion?

Zim­babwe has es­tab­lished a Mer­cury Ini­tial As­sess­ment Project Steer­ing Com­mit­tee com­pris­ing of gov­ern­ment line min­istry of­fi­cials.

The com­mit­tee will spear­head cit­i­zens’ ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness of on mer­cury is­sues as well as to in­form the na­tion on how to man­age mer­cury.

All their ef­forts will help Zim­babwe to make an in­formed de­ci­sion when rat­i­fy­ing the mi­na­mata con­ven­tion. EX­PORTED prod­ucts be­come com­pet­i­tive when they land at lower costs. This can be achieved if goods are ex­ported un­der a trade agree­ment.

The trade agree­ment will re­sult in the goods be­ing ac­corded pref­er­en­tial treat­ment on en­try into the im­port­ing coun­try.

Pref­er­en­tial treat­ment means that your prod­ucts will pay less or no cus­toms du­ties in the im­port­ing coun­try. What trade agree­ments are there? Zim­babwe is part to the fol­low­ing trade agree­ments:

Comesa Trade Pro­to­col for ex­ports to all Comesa mem­ber states

Sadc Trade Pro­to­col for ex­ports to all Sadc mem­ber states

Zim­babwe/Malawi trade agree­ment for ex­ports to Malawi

Zim­babwe/Botswana trade agree­ment for ex­ports to Botswana

Zim­babwe/Namibia trade agree­ment for ex­ports to Namibia

Zim­babwe/Mozam­bique trade agree­ment for ex­ports to Mozam­bique

The Gen­er­alised Sys­tem of Pref­er­ences for ex­ports to Euro­pean Union coun­tries

How do you reg­is­ter un­der a trade agree­ment?

You ap­proach the near­est Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (Zimra) of­fice and ob­tain in­for­ma­tion on a par­tic­u­lar trade agree­ment(s) that you want to reg­is­ter un­der.

Man­u­fac­turer or ex­porter makes an ap­pli­ca­tion in writ­ing to Zimra to export un­der the par­tic­u­lar trade agree­ment.

The ap­pli­ca­tion should be sup­ported by ev­i­dence that the goods orig­i­nate in Zim­babwe. What type of goods qual­ify? The fol­low­ing are some of the goods that may qual­ify for pref­er­en­tial treat­ment:

Wholly grown prod­ucts such agri­cul­tural prod­ucts as An­i­mals orig­i­nat­ing in Zim­babwe Min­eral prod­ucts Man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts meet­ing set out qual­i­fy­ing cri­te­ria, amongst other goods

Can I export goods if I am not the man­u­fac­turer of the prod­uct?

Yes, you can. You need to be reg­is­tered with ZIMRA to export the par­tic­u­lar man­u­fac­tured prod­uct.

What doc­u­ments are re­quired by the im­port­ing coun­try for the goods to en­joy pref­er­en­tial treat­ment?

A cer­tifi­cate of ori­gin duly com­pleted and signed by the man­u­fac­turer or ex­porter and au­then­ti­cated by ZIMRA.

Max­imis­ing on the ben­e­fits of trade agree­ments. You are free to find out which trade agree­ment gives you max­i­mum ben­e­fit for the prod­uct you in­tend to export.


This ar­ti­cle was com­piled by the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity for in­for­ma­tion pur­poses only.

ZIMRA shall not ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for loss or dam­age aris­ing from use of ma­te­rial in this ar­ti­cle and no liability will at­tach to the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity.

Re­port cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties anony­mously by call­ing: Toll Free Econet Line: 0808 190 Toll Free Tele­cel Line: 0732 880 880 What­sApp: 0772 135 690 E-Mail:zim­raan­ti­cor­rup­tion@gmail. com <mailto:zim­raan­ti­cor­rup­tion@>

Please note that the toll free hot­line is man­aged by an in­de­pen­dent ser­vice provider.

Zim­babwe can ben­e­fit from to­bacco ex­ports if backed by trade agree­ments

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