Zimbabwe bans the use of mercury in mining

This file photo shows a mine worker goes about his work at RioZim's Cam and Motor gold mine in Kadoma, about 140 kilometers west of Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on Oct. 27, 2016. (Xinhua)
This file photo shows a mine worker goes about his work at RioZim’s Cam and Motor gold mine in Kadoma, about 140 kilometers west of Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on Oct. 27, 2016. (Xinhua)

Zimbabwe has banned the use of mercury in mining and placed controls on its release from industrial operations, joining several countries that have phased out the toxic metal, Zimbabwe’s state media reported on Tuesday.

The state-owned Herald newspaper reported that the country had ratified the Minamata Convention, banning the use of mercury in mining and put in place regulatory measures to stop its release from industrial equipment like boilers, incinerators and power stations.

The ban will affect small-scale gold miners who use mercury to extract the gold.

Zimbabwe’s small-scale miners currently produce more than half of the country’s output.

Mercury, which is easily accessible to miners in Zimbabwe, is highly toxic and poses severe public health risks when it contaminates food and groundwater.