Canada Proposes Restrictions on Mercury Exports

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By Peter Menyasz

May 17 — Canada is proposing changes to environmental laws and regulations to let it restrict exports of elemental mercury, which could allow the country to ratify the international Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The proposed addition of mercury to the Export Control List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and amendments to associated regulations would require exporters of products containing mercury to notify importing countries and obtain their consent, and could require exporters to obtain permits, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada said in a May 14 notice.

The proposal comes less than six months after Canada began prohibiting the import and manufacture of most products containing mercury (37 INER 1622, 12/3/14).

Adding an export ban would permit Canada to ratify the Minamata Convention, the government said.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an effort, negotiated under the United Nations Environment Program, to protect health and the environment from harmful effects of mercury. According to the U.S. government, it calls for signatories to “control and reduce mercury emissions to the air; reduce or eliminate the use of mercury in certain products and industrial processes; address the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining; and reduce the supply of mercury by, among other things, ending primary mercury mining.”

Signed in 2013

The Minamata Convention, which Canada signed in October 2013, will come into force when it has been ratified by 50 countries. The convention has been signed by 128 governments and to date been ratified by 21 countries and accepted by four others. The U.S. ratified the convention in 2013.

“Canada's ratification would encourage reductions in global mercury emissions and would consequently reduce foreign mercury deposition in Canada, particularly in Canada's Arctic,” the government said.

The proposed order to add mercury to Part 2 of the Export Control List and a separate proposal for consequential amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations are open to public comment through July 28.

Regulations, Ratification

The export controls would apply to exports of elemental mercury at concentrations of 95 percent or more by weight. Mercury exports are currently not controlled or prohibited, except as hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material regulated under the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.

The proposed amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations would make exports of elemental mercury subject to the regulations' requirements for notifications to the federal government of proposed exports, the govermement said.

That also would enable Canada to meet its obligations under the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and export obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

For More Information

The proposed order to add mercury to the Export Control List is available at

The proposed amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations is available at

Request Environment & Energy Report