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Proposed regulation will restrict exports of mercury

May 20, 2016

Canada is a signatory to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (Minamata Convention), a global, legally binding treaty that addresses, within other things, the trade of mercury. Parties to the Convention are required to maintain comprehensive restrictions on the export of elemental mercury that is at a concentration of 95% or more by weight.

Currently, there are no measures in Canada controlling or prohibiting the export of elemental mercury, except when it is, or is contained in, hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material. To be in a position to ratify the Minamata Convention, which Canada signed on October 10, 2013, Canada must implement controls on the export of elemental mercury.

In order to do this the Department of the Environment and Department of Health published proposed Regulations Amending the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations.

The proposed Amendments would add elemental mercury to the Export Control List (ECL) and make the substance subject to the Regulations. The Amendments would restrict the export of mixtures containing elemental mercury at a concentration of 95% or more by weight.

In line with the Minamata Convention, the following types of export would be allowed:

• Mercury that is, or is contained in, a hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material regulated by Canada's Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations;

• Mercury-containing manufactured items; or

• Mercury to be used for laboratory-scale research and analysis or as a reference standard.

A prior notification of export would be required for exporters of these substances.

The proposed Amendments would not apply to naturally occurring trace quantities of mercury present in non-mercury metals, ores or mineral products, nor would the controls apply to unintentional trace quantities of mercury in chemical products.

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