TANZANIA will be one of the countries that will attain the power of veto on issues related to the use of mercury, when it signs the Minamata Convention on Mercury on Monday in Minamatha, Japan.
According to the Chief Government Chemist, Prof Samuel Manyele, it will be a legally binding instrument on the safe use of mercury.
He said the fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee prepared the global legally binding instrument on mercury in Geneva in January, this year.
Governments have successfully completed negotiations and the document will be presented for adoption and opened for signature at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries - Diplomatic Conference.
The Chief Government Chemist is part of the delegation that will represent Tanzania at the diplomatic conference. The development is set to put legal dispensation to curb the dangerous use of mercury among small scale gold miners.
He said government has never authorised small scale miners to use mercury in their activities. Reports cite that 1.5 million informal miners in the country depend on small scale mining for their livelihood.
In a report, compiled by Science of Total environment, "Mercury Contamination Associated With Small-scale Gold Mining in Tanzania and Zimbabwe," mercury contamination through small scale gold mining and processing represents a major environmental and human health concerns.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch reveals that thousands of children, some as young as eight years old, work in licensed and unlicensed small-scale gold mines in Tanzania, despite strong laws prohibiting child labour in mining. The report, 'Toxic Toil: Child Labour and Mercury Exposure in Tanzania's Smallscale Gold Mines,' describes how children dig and drill in deep, unstable pits, work underground for shifts of up to 24 hours and transport and crush heavy bags of gold ore.
They also risk injury from collapsing pits and accidents with tools, as well as long-term sicknesses from exposure to mercury, breathing of dust and the carrying of heavy loads.
"Tanzanian boys and girls are lured to the gold mines in the hope of a better life, but find themselves stuck in a dead-end cycle of danger and despair," said Janine Morna, children's rights research fellow at Human Rights Watch.
"Tanzania and donors need to get these children out of the mines and into school or vocational training." Many children who work in mining are vulnerable children who lack basic necessities and support.
Human Rights Watch also found that girls found around mining sites face sexual harassment. Human Rights Watch visited 11 mining sites in Geita, Shinyanga and Mbeya regions and interviewed more than 200 people, including 61 children working in small-scale gold mining.