Mica from Madagascar is at least half won by minors aged 5-17 years. The working conditions are harsh and the children are constantly exposed to fine dust. Almost all mica goes to China and the research of Terre des Hommes shows that the export ends up in the products of Western companies without hindrance. With a floor price of 4 Eurocents per kilo, there is serious exploitation of the mica workers. Terre des Hommes wants to stop child exploitation.
Terre des Hommes has carried out research into mica mining in Madagascar and the supply chain to China and the world market. Researchers found entire families working in the extraction and processing of the mica mineral. Mica is mined in Madagascar mainly in the poor south; in the three main mica regions, the percentage of working children aged 5 - 17 varies from 56% to 62%. The total number of mica workers is cautiously estimated by the researchers at 22,000, of which at least half are minors (at least 11,000).
Mica is extracted by artisanal, non-industrial means in Madagascar and Madagascar is the third largest mica exporter in the world. In the field of sheet-mica, which is mainly used in electronics and the automotive industry, Madagascar has surpassed India as the largest exporter. The mica is cut by hand and the debris is further processed and split by hand. Several of the investigated mica mining sites do not have a permit.
With a bottom kilo price of 4 Eurocents, the (underage) miners get less than half of what is paid per kilo in India. Mica exports from Madagascar have increased by a factor of 30 since 2008, but the price per tonne has fallen sharply. According to Terre des Hommes, all this indicates serious exploitation.
Export to China
The supply chain to China has been investigated. 87% of the mica from Madagascar goes to China by ship and then comes in products from companies such as Panasonic (Japan), Fujikura (Japanese company in wiring and cables for electronics, telecom, automotive), Prysmian Group (cable company, merger of NL Draka and Italian Prysmian), Van Roll and Isovolta (both with Swiss holding) and Fujikura (Japanese electronics concern). The customers of these companies also run the risk of being linked to child labour in their supply chain.
Terre des Hommes notes that the business community is not fulfilling its duty of care when it comes to child labour in their products. Terre des Hommes calls on the electronics companies and the car industry to find out where the mica in their products comes from. Companies must not accept the risk of child labour and, together with their suppliers, must eliminate child labour.
Government of Madagascar
This responsibility also applies to the Malagasy authorities. The researchers met with officials of the responsible Ministry of Mines. The Ministry is benevolent, but lacks the resources and capacity for adequate supervision. Madagascar is a vulnerable country, ranked 161 (out of 189) on the Human Development Index.
Your help is indispensable, also for children in Madagascar!
Terre des Hommes is working with UNICEF on the development of a project in Madagascar in which child labour is banned in the micamines by working together with various parties involved.