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Madagascar: Investigation finds children as young as four mining mica for electronics and automotive industries

Author: Lisa Cavazuti, Christine Romo, Cynthia McFadden & Rich Schapiro, NBC News, Published on: 19 November 2019

"'Zone Rouge': An army of children toils in African mines", 18 November 2019

Mica...is...prized in the electronics and automotive worlds due to its ability to transmit electric force without overheating...

...In Madagascar...it’s mined by hand in a cluster of sites in the country’s rugged south...NBC News traveled...with...Terre des Hommes and witnessed scores of children working in unregulated and poorly-ventilated mica pits, as well as processing centers, alongside other family members...

...a picture emerges of children as young as 4 years old performing long hours of labor-intensive work in often dangerous conditions...

...firms turn the mineral shards into component parts that end up in products sold by such companies as Panasonic, Electrolock and CRRC...

...CCRC...said...[they] had no idea mica used in their trains were mined by children. “We have to do some investigation with our suppliers,”...

...Electrolock...said...[they were] reaching out to its supplier to pursue the issue.

Panasonic said its supply chain guidelines “expressly prohibits the use of child labor and require suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect...”...

... Several major American companies depend on sheet mica...Three of the companies — United Airlines, Isovolta and Alaska Airlines  — didn’t respond to requests for comment...

...Ford said it regularly communicates with its suppliers to “monitor the responsible sourcing of mica.”...

...Fiat-Chrysler said it “engages in collaborative action with global stakeholders...to promote and develop our raw material supply chain.”

Virgin Atlantic said it asks its suppliers to comply with standards that include...“not using child labor defined as anyone under 15 years of age.”

Boeing acknowledged that suppliers may “incorporate minerals into components at an early stage of their manufacturing process,” but said it expects the suppliers to comply with its policies on basic working conditions and human rights.

Read the full post here

Related companies: Alaska Air American Airlines Boeing CRRC Electrolock Fiat Chrysler Ford Panasonic United Airlines (part of United Continental) Virgin Atlantic (joint venture Virgin Group & Singapore Airlines)