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07BRASILIA12 2007-01-04 18:59:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Brasilia
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1. At a December 8, 2006, meeting at Brazil's Ministry of the
Environment, ESTH Counselor Patricia Norman, Science Officer KG
Moore and EPA Project Leader Dr. Luis Fernandez met with Dr. Marilia
Cerqueira, Director of Brazil's Mercury programs. Dr. Fernandez
presented to the Brazilians the scope and proposed planned
activities for the Mercury Reduction in Artisanal Mining Project.

2. Background Note: Brazil is the leading producer of gold ore in
Latin America, the majority of which is produced using a mercury
amalgamation process that results in an estimated 130 tonnes of
mercury released into the environment annually. EPA is seeking, in
partnership with Brazil's Ministry of the Environment, CETEM and
UNIDO, to develop a pilot project to encourage the use of mercury
reduction technologies among artisanal gold miners and gold shops.
End of Note.

3. This project had been the topic of earlier meetings at the
Ministry. The issue of whether a MOU or other type of instrument
would be required to govern this activity had been raised
intermittently by the Brazilians. At the December 8 meeting,
Marilia Cerqueira made a plea for some kind of instrument to "bless"
this activity. Cerqueira said the Ministry felt uncomfortable
working without the endorsement of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

4. Post suggested the possibility of exchanging letters of
cooperation, under the authority of the Common Agenda for the
Environment. The letters of cooperation could be signed by both the
U.S. and Brazilian foreign ministries granting authority to the
Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and EPA to execute the Mercury
Reduction in Artisanal Mining Project as mutually agreed. (A
speedier alternative, if acceptable to the Brazilians, would be to
have letters signed only by EPA and the Brazilian Ministry of the
Environment.) Cerqueira agreed to consider the exchange of letters.

5. An electronic version of the Common Agenda for The Environment
agreement, signed by the United States and Brazil in 1995 will be
sent to OES/ENV and EPA via email.

6. Post seeks OES/ENV and EPA perspectives as to whether the
exchange of letters of cooperation could be an acceptable
alternative to the Ministry's request for a MOU. If this is a
viable alternative, Post would request OES/EPA develop draft text.