The Minamata Convention on Mercury
Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal which is highly toxic. Owing to its unique physical and chemical properties, mercury has been used in various products and processes for a long time. It can be bioaccumulated in the ecosystems and poses a serious threat to human health and the environment. Recognizing its harmful effects, the United Nations Environment Programme developed the Minamata Convention ("the Convention") with the objective to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions of mercury and mercury compounds. The People's Republic of China started to become one of the Parties to the Convention when it entered into force on 16 August 2017. Pursuant to Article 153 of the Basic Law, the Central People's Government sought the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("HKSAR") and decided that the Convention would apply to HKSAR.
For the Text and Annexes of the Convention, please visit the following website:
The Mercury Control Ordinance (Cap. 640) ("the Ordinance") has been enacted to ensure full compliance with all obligations of the Convention. It has four main provisions, namely the introduction of a permit system to control import and export of mercury and mercury mixtures; prohibition of the manufacture, import and export of mercury-added products listed in the Convention; prohibition of manufacturing processes listed in the Convention in which mercury or mercury compounds are used; and introduction of a permit system to control the storage of mercury and mercury compounds. The Ordinance comes into effect on 1 December 2021. Full provisions of the Ordinance can be downloaded from the link https://www.gld.gov.hk/egazette/pdf/20212526/es12021252619.pdf
Regulatory regime under the Ordinance can be referred to the Summary of the Ordinance.
For guidance on application for the relevant import, export, or possession permit under the Ordinance, please refer to the or Guidelines on Application for Import/Export Permit or Guidelines on Application for Possession Permit.
Details regarding the consultation document of the legislative proposal, the gazette notices, the relevant press releases and the discussion papers at the Legislative Council, can be downloaded from the following links:
Consultation Document of the Legislative Proposal
Consultation Document – Full Text including Executive Summary
Mercury Control Ordinance (Commencement) Notice
Press Release dated 23 April 2021 on gazette of Mercury Control Bill
Press Release dated 16 September 2021 on approval of Mercury Control Ordinance (Commencement) Notice
Discussion Papers at the Legislative Council
Discussion Paper for the Panel on Environmental Affairs of the Legislative Council