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World agrees first global treaty to curb mercury pollution

Russian Television | Additional commentary by Axel Sturm

Small scale mining in BougainvilleA CONVENTION SIGNED IN GENEVA has legally bound over 140 countries to new laws as part of an attempt to prevent the spread of deadly mercury pollution.

Environmental mercury levels have been rising, and anticipated further increases have motivated UN delegates in Geneva to reach a consensus on the solution.

 Mercury can cause a range of neurological and health problems and is potentially fatal in large doses.

The legally binding rules, known as the Minimata Convention, was established on Saturday morning. The UN approval of the treaty followed recently published data which demonstrated an alarming rise in levels of the highly toxic metal, especially in developing states.

‘Minimata’ is the Japanese name for a neurological disorder that arises from severe mercury poisoning, symptoms of which can include numbness in the extremities, ataxia, damage to speech, sound and sight, paralysis and death.

Once released into the environment, mercury can become more concentrated as it moves up the food chain. It can bio-accumulate in fish, which humans then consume.

The UN said a growth in small-scale mining and coal-burning were the primary reasons for the rise in mercury emissions.

Axel Sturm (President, European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper) comments:

Panning gold on a beach near Loloho, BougainvilleAlluvial gold is produced and sold in large quantities in Bougainville. As I am informed, most people who work with mercury don’t even know how dangerous it is.

Recently the Autonomous Bougainville Government discussed this problem and I strongly believe it is up to us to inform the people of Bougainville through our media platforms. We are obliged to do this.

Mercury is not a problem of Bougainville alone, of course, it’s also a problem for all Papua New Guinea.


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Axel Sturm

Thank you very much for joining my little awareness campaign against mercury pollution.

By the way, BCL never polluted the environment with mercury or other toxic chemicals.

I think it is very important that the people on the ground learn to take care of their environment and their health.

They are already more than enough exposed to multiple risks as there are betelnut (mouth cancer), homebrew (loss of control) and others.

Bougainville could be a true paradise if we could help them to live more respectful towards”imported” risks. It’s already tragic enough that lots of them suffer from acquired diabetes from wrong nutrition.

When I point out that alluvial mining has its risks, it is not because of the loss of gold for BCL, believe me. For us shareholders the losses due to fraudulent activities on the stock markets are more important and much more annoying!

I also hope that Bougainvilleans will find a way to get along well amongst each others – without greed and jealousy!

Perhaps I’m a stupid dreamer, but here in Europe, France and Germany were able to reconcile successfully – we celebrated today 50 years of Franco-German Friendship after centuries of wars.

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