Mica is a sparkling mineral with outstanding physical, chemical and electrical properties. Mercedes does not purchase mica directly, but various car parts do contain mica and therefore the company recognizes 'responsibility for a sustainable supply chain right down to the raw material level’. Terre des Hommes applauds this first step Mercedes has taken and regards this as a success in her dialogue with companies to actively conduct due diligence on their supply chains and eliminate child labour.
Broad scope of investigation
The mining of mica is a labour-intensive process and is carried out by the very poor in low-wage countries, with high risk of prevalence of the worst forms of child labour. Mercedes uses mica from the three investigated mines in the paint for its cars.
The scope of the investigation done by the Mercedes-Benz audit team was broader than solely traces of child labour, and also looked at general working conditions, for example whether forced labour could be identified. The researchers also tracked the specific route of the mica from the mines to prevent it from mixing with mica from unexamined mines. The researchers note that in the chain, the risk for this is greatest between the mine and the first processing location.
Mercedes sets example for automotive industry
Terre des Hommes hopes that other automobile companies will follow this first step of Mercedes towards a sustainable mica supply chain. Research done by Terre des Hommes in 2018 shows that the electronics industry (including car electronics) is the biggest purchaser of mica (26 percent), followed by paints and coatings (24 percent). One global automobile company could identify 15,000 different parts containing mica in any one of its cars.