Wa, Sept 5, GNA - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched Ghana’s Minamata Initial Assessment Report, setting the tone for national discussions on mercury management in the country.
The launch was done in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Ghana, being a party to the Minamata Convention which aims to phase-out or minimise mercury usage, undertook the assessment to understand the existing institutional and legal frameworks on mercury management, sources of mercury releases, the gaps that need to be filled, and actions required to ensure an effective implementation of the Convention.
Findings from the assessment identified the major mercury release sources in Ghana which included; gold extraction with mercury, mostly by artisanal small-scale gold miners; use and disposal of mercury-added products; waste incineration and open waste burning.
The mercury releases, according to the report, are mostly emitted into the air, followed by water and land.
Ms Praise Nutakor, Communications Analyst at UNDP Ghana in a statement to the Ghana News Agency quoted Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, as saying government had expressed satisfaction on efforts put in by key stakeholders to ensure the assessment was done successfully and timeously.
He stressed on the Ministry’s commitment to provide adequate support for the implementation of the recommended actions identified.
He said: “Government will not relent in its effort to deal with illegalities in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, especially the use of mercury as this affects the environment”.
The report noted that though Ghana did not mine mercury, it imported mercury and mercury containing products, and they were mostly used by artisanal small-scale gold miners; educational and research institutions; health care facilities; meteorological services and other allied institutions.
The devices used by these institutions are mainly thermometers, manometers, barometers, sphygmomanometers, and analytical equipment.
In terms of the risk of mercury exposure, the report indicated that the most vulnerable groups were; communities closed to water bodies and mining sites; patients, health personnel and people living close to health facilities that use mercury-added products; and those living near open dumps and waste incineration sites.
Priority actions recommended by the report towards the effective implementation of the Minamata Convention in Ghana include:Developing a legal framework that incorporated the obligations under the Minamata Convention as well as an administrative structure;
Phasing-out the use of mercury-added products in the health sector and reducing the use of dental amalgam; Reducing and where feasible, eliminating the use of mercury and mercury compounds in artisanal small-scale gold mining; Reducing emissions and releases of mercury from the identified mercury releases sources; and Managing mercury waste in an environmentally-sound manner.
The statement also said Mr Louis Kuukpen, Assistant Country Director of UNDP called on leading national institutions to prioritise the implementation of the recommended actions to protect Ghanaians and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury exposure.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change call for the commitment of all stakeholders to ensure environmental sustainability. We at UNDP stand ready to continue to partner our government and other development partners to work towards the realisation of these global goals”, he said.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
The Convention focuses on ultimately phasing-out mercury and mercury related or containing products from all sectors. Ghana ratified the Minamata Convention in August 2017.