Mercury circulates around the globe as a product in international trade and because of releases from natural and anthropogenic sources. Since mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife, international efforts are being made to reduce its use. Finland is one of the biggest mercury producers in the EU and the biggest one producing virgin mercury. Between 25 and 75 tons mercury as a byproduct from
metal smelting of zinc and copper ores are annually produced in Finland by Boliden Kokkola Ltd, which belongs to the Swedish New Boliden Group.
The aim of this FinnWatch study is to bring up problems related to mercury trade and to draw attention to the international trade and development policies. A related aim is to see whether selfcontrol of companies is sufficient or if authority supervision and restrictions are needed. The report is a desk-study, which uses many sources including Global Mercury Assessment of the UNEP and interviews. The FinnWatch study presents mercury production, usage and hazards in general. It focuses especially on Finland's position as a mercury producer and supplier of mercury to small-scale gold mining in the Amazon. Boliden says that it does not want to export mercury outside of Europe. The company says alos that it sells mercury only to suppliers, who resells it only within Europe. However, other sources maintain Finnish mercury has also ended up in developing countries, for example in Brazil, where it can be bought bottled in pharmacies by anyone. It is used without personal protective equipment in small-scale gold mining causing health problems and causes environmental pollution and accidents. The self-control of
mercury trading companies is proving to be inadequate according to the FinnWatch report. The FinnWatch study shows that Finnish mercury may end up in developing countries - or may not, despite Boliden's recently introduced efforts to control its trade
and customs. Further research is needed.
2006. 574- p.