Minamata Convention on Mercury
Mercury is a chemical of global concern due to its long-range atmospheric transport, persistence in the environment, ability to bioaccumulate in ecosystems and significant negative effects on human health and the environment. The World Health Organisation lists mercury in the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern. Acute or chronic exposure to mercury can be fatal.
Mercury is released into the environment mainly through human activities such as industrial and mining processes.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The Minamata Convention was ratified by Australia on 7 December 2021.
Information about Australia’s obligations under the Minamata Convention is available on the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website. This includes sector specific guidance about mercury-containing products (and rules prohibiting importing, exporting, and manufacturing mercury added products), dental amalgam, the lighting sector, and industrial emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
Note: For the purpose of implementing the Minamata Convention, mercury includes mixtures of mercury with other substances, including alloys of mercury, with a mercury concentration of at least 95% by weight, and mercury compounds means mercury chloride (known also as calomel), mercury oxide, mercury sulphate, mercury nitrate, cinnabar and mercury sulphide.
Minamata Convention and the Environmental Protection Act 1994
Queensland has an important role in managing emissions, releases and disposal of mercury and mercury compounds.
This will primarily be considered under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act), including through:
- a person’s requirement to meet their general environmental duty; and
- environmental authority application assessment processes.
When assessing an environmental authority application under the EP Act, the administering authority will need to consider the Minamata Convention. As such, all environmental authority applicants are required to consider how the Minamata Convention may apply to their application and provide any necessary supporting information required to demonstrate adherence to the convention.
For any questions, please contact the departments Permit and licence management team.