Having more than tripled since 1970, burning of coal is, after artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the largest single anthropogenic source of mercury air emissions, with 21% of the global emissions estimated at approximately 2220 tonnes per year. There is now also growing evidence about the significance of mercury releases to land and water from coal-fired power plants, as well as coal washing.

Although coal contains only low concentrations of mercury, it is burnt in very large volumes. And despite a growing number of countries moving away from coal, global demand is expected to remain steady over the next 5 years.

Up to 95% of mercury releases from power plants can be reduced by improving coal and plant performances and by optimizing control systems for other pollutants.

More from mercury releases from coal combustion


The Partnership Area aims to support continued minimization and elimination of mercury releases (to air, water and land) from coal combustion where possible. It also aims to provide technically sound information on cost effective approaches for enhancing reductions of mercury emissions, particularly for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.


The Partnership Area provides easy to access documentation and online tools to allow countries to determine appropriate measures for mercury reduction from coal-fired utilities in a site and source specific manner, taking economic, geographic and technological limitations into account.

Partnership Area Leads

Dr. Lesley Sloss - IEA Clean Coal Centre
Dr. Peter Nelson - Macquarie University - Australia