India: Prominent child labour, unsafe working conditions found in Jharkhand's mica mines

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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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Article
19 February 2014

India's mica mines: The shameful truth behind mineral make-up's shimmer [India]

Author: Ben Doherty & Sarah Whyte, The Age (Australia)

In the hills of Jharkhand in India, child labourers mine the mica that brings sparkle to the world…industry here is…dependent on a huge unskilled workforce, forced into working for lower and lower prices…work is hard and dangerous. Children working risk snake and scorpion bites, and the hollowed-out caves they mine in often collapse. They suffer cuts and skin infections, as well as respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis, silicosis and asthma…[Refers to Napoleon Perdis, Estee Lauder Companies, Heritage Brands, Merck KGaA - response comments by all are included in the article. Also refers to MAC Cosmetics (part of Estée Lauder), Maybelline (part of L'Oreal). Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited L'Oreal to respond, see response below].

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Company response
2 February 2014

L'Oréal response

Author: L'Oréal

...Since 2009 when L’Oréal was first alerted that there was a possibility of child labor in the collection of mica in India, the Group has worked closely with its suppliers to secure its supply chain of mica against any such risk.

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