The deceptive global supply chain for Mercury

An article in Bloombergbusinessweek (May 28, 2012) describes the demand for mercury in Colombia, to extract small gold deposits, the lethal impact of vapors and errant disposal, and the global supply chain for its supply. Mercury exports were banned by the European Union in 2011 and US exports will be banned starting in 2013. But the 3 million pounds of mercury shipped from the US to the Netherlands (56 % of US mercury exports) enters an “in transit” status when in a warehouse in Rotterdam (and thus does not show entry into Europe) , then moves from Rotterdam to Colombia. From a paperwork perspective the US exports of mercury disappear from the global supply chain and appear in Colombia. When the European regaultors elimintaed the in transit exemption, mercury moved to Singapore as an in transit site before heading to Colombia. How should the global supply chain prevent errant use of mercury for gold extraction ? Should the inability of the Colombian government to enforce regulations (and thus deprive many citizens of a livelihood, albeit in a toxic environment) shift the responsibility to the exporting nations ? Or should the gold sales to donwstream customers require certification of an environmentally benign extraction process, thus dropping demand for gold extracted by toxic processes by small producers ?

About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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