Mica is the name of a naturally occurring group of silicate minerals. It is derived from the Latin word micare which means to shine, to flash or to glitter. Mica is used throughout the cosmetics and personal care industry, as well as in paints for cars.
In February 2017 an ITV investigation found the use of child labour in India to source mica. However, this isn't the first time the mica industry has been plagued by child labour abuses.
In 2016, Dutch NGO SOMO and Terre des Hommes Netherlands released a new report which confirmed findings of up to 20,000 child labourers being involved in the mining of the mineral along the border between Jharkhand and Bihar in North East India. It is estimated that 25% of the world production of mica is sourced from these illegal mines.
According to Terre des Hommes (TDH) Netherlands:
The work is exhausting, hazardous and jeopardising their health. Moreover, those children cannot attend school and will therefore be trapped in a vicious cycle of exploitation. Children and adults working in illegal mines, can only earn 45 percent of the average salary in a legal mine, while legal mines only contribute to a small part in the total volume of mica exported.
While the report questioned several large Dutch companies, including Unilever, about their mica supply chains, it found that, for the majority of mica imported from Jharkhand/Bihar, no due diligence had been conducted either by the pigment producers or the exporters. The report called on companies to conduct due diligence of their supply chains and to work collaboratively with other companies on the issue.