UNEP and UNITAR are pleased to present to you this overview document outlining the situation regarding the world’s last known exporting mercury mine – at Khaidar- kan in southern Kyrgyzstan. For the past two years, sig- nifcant efforts have been taking place at the international level to assist the Government of Kyrgyzstan and national and local stakeholders to consider options regarding the future of the mine and its associated infrastructure.
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What is known as “primary” mercury mining is almost a thing of the past. Signifcant international efforts are taking place under the auspices of UNEP, to ensure that a global legally binding instrument will be agreed by 2013. The issue of mercury supply is to be addressed during these negotiations. The continued introduction of “new” mercury from the Khaidarkan mine – which adds to the already signifcant international supply of mercury currently being traded – further highlights the need for international action to support alternatives to mercury mining in Kyrgyzstan.
With initial support of the Government of Switzerland and the United States of America, UNITAR and UNEP have assisted the Kyrgyz Government as they grapple with the complex issues related to the future of the mine. As you will see in this publication, the region of the country where the mine is situated faces long-term economic and environmental challenges that make the possible closure of the mine a contentious issue.
The international community has shown encouraging signs of support for the future of Khaidarkan – ask- ing for options that can be considered for support should a decision to close the mine be frmly made by Kyrgyzstan. Should this decision be made, we all can therefore be more certain that a “win-win” – for the global environment and the local community of Khaidarkan – can be realized. More recent funding support from the Government of Norway has also been warmly welcomed.
We hope that this publication can provide a general over- view of the issues at-hand. More information is available from UNEP, UNITAR and our supporting organization, the Zoï Environment Network.