EARTH Thailand

Jokowi Bans Mercury Use in Gold Mines

Jakarta Globe 10 March 2017

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has issued a ban on the use of mercury in small-scale gold mines throughout the archipelago, citing the potential negative impacts the toxic metal may have on the environment and human health.

Mercury poisoning can result by inhaling the hazardous substance or otherwise ingesting it in any of its forms.

"The use of mercury in [local and small-scale] mines should be stopped," Jokowi said during a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Thursday (09/03).

"I have received detailed reports that point to the use of mercury in more than 850 local mines as having caused serious environmental damage," the president added.

Jokowi said mercury exposure poses a hazard not only to the nation's more than 250,000 gold miners, but to their families as well – including children and those living near the mines.

Indonesia signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury – an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment – on Oct. 10, 2013.

The president issued seven decrees on Thursday aimed at regulating the use of the toxic metal in local and small-scale gold mines.

"The use of mercury in local mines should be banned immediately. When I went to Maluku province, I asked the National Police chief to halt local gold mining activity around Mount Botak due to the widespread use of mercury there," Jokowi said.

The government will also provide training lessons to educate the public on the dangers of mercury exposure.

In another step, Jokowi instructed the Ministry of Health to provide immediate medical assistance to those who may have been exposed to mercury.