India: Reports of child labour in mica mines raise concerns about cosmetic industry' "ethical extraction"

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Article
10 March 2014

Child labour: mineral make-up boom raises fears over ethical extraction (India)

Author: Huw Nesbitt, Guardian (UK)

After media reports of alleged links between cosmetic makeup and illnesses including cancer, discerning consumers have switched to mineral cosmetics in an attempt to find a more natural beauty alternative. Many of these mineral products contain mica, a glittery substance used in blusher, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick and foundation. Today the main source of this material is India, which accounts for 60% of global production...Nonetheless, concerns about the safety of the country's mica supply chains are increasing...[since] child labour is endemic in India's mica mining business and 86% of the country's mica exports in 2010-2011 were unregulated...[C]osmetic brand Lush, which uses mica from India in its handmade products [says] "will discontinue the use of mica in products." The obstacles Lush encountered in establishing an ethical source of mica are affecting the entire cosmetics industry...[refers to Esteé-Lauder, L'Oreal, Merck]

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Article
10 March 2014

Lush to remove mica from all products over child labour fears (India)

Author: Hannah Fearn & Huw Nesbitt, Guardian (UK)

[L]ush has committed to removing all traces of mica from its products over concerns that it is unable to guarantee that the mines which extract the product are free from child labour...Charities and NGOs working in India, where the mineral is mined, argue that mica is extracted by organisations whose certification of ethical practice through an audit process cannot be guaranteed...Mark Constantine, a co-founder of Lush, said the chain would usually request spot checks on its suppliers to be assured about local practice, but the area in which mica is mined is too dangerous for visitors to arrive unaccompanied [which] means that Lush is unable independently to guarantee that child labour is not used on the sites that supply the mineral to the store...

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