8 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Asbestos Indaba Opens

Crucial meetings on the future trade in chrysotile asbestos, which is predominately used for roofing and piping materials by domestic as well as industrial users, will begin today in Geneva, Switzerland.

The 6th Conference of Parties of the Rotterdam Convention, which is an international grouping designed to regulate trade in chemicals and pesticides, has proposed to list chrysotile asbestos on the Prior Informed Consent list, a development that will classify the product as an extremely hazardous substance.

It is believed that such a development will ultimately put into jeopardy the future of thousands of workers employed in the asbestos sector, and critically affect the profitability of downstream industries.

However, Zimbabwe and Russia, which will attend the conference as parties for the first time after ratifying the instruments to the conventions, are largely expected to vote against the listing.

Decisions are largely decided by consensus, but lobbyists against chrysotile asbestos are currently making moves to tweak the rules to ensure that decisions are decided by the majority, a proposal which, again is being opposed by Zimbabwe and Russia.

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