BRUSSELS The European Union banned on Thursday all exports of mercury from the 27-nation bloc from 2011 in a bid to cut global supplies of the toxic metal.
"Let us hope that other countries will follow our example and support our goal of cutting the global supply of this dangerous substance," EU Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said in a statement.
Under the ban, mercury that is no longer being used to make chlorine and caustic soda products, or that is being produced from other industrial processes, has to be put into safe storage once the export ban takes effect in March 2011.
The EU stopped all forms of mercury mining in 2001 but is still the world's biggest exporter, accounting for up to a quarter or several thousand tonnes of the global supply.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark John and Quentin Bryar)