Indonesia bans use of mercury in mine to protect environment

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JAKARTA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government has banned the usage of mercury in mining operation to protect environment and health.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the use of the chemical in about 850 traditional mines must be terminated as it has badly polluted environment and is very harmful to human health.

"It is not only dangerous for 250,000 miners, but also for the members of their families, especially children, and the health of people living around the mines," President Widodo stressed at the State Palace.

"This can not be allowed to persist as Indonesia is one of the nations signing Minamata convention," he added.

Therefore, the president instructed to supervise the implementation of the policy in all gold mines.

Surveillance on rampant illegal trade of mercury in the mines must also be strengthened, said Widodo.

"The communities must also be informed that the impact of the mercury can cause mental or physical disability on their children," he said.

Punishment in a form of closure of the mining operation could also be applied for those keeping violating the rule, the president threatened.

But shifting of the job of the miners would also become another alternative, he added.

For the victims of the pollution, Widodo asked the health ministry to provide medical assistance to them.