‘Zone Rouge’: Army of children toil in Madagascar’s mica mines( NBC News, nov.11/019)

mining-1920x1080Mica is the name applied to a group of minerals that form in layers at once flexible and strong.  Longtime staple of the cosmetics industry, mica is known for adding sparkle to makeup products and paints. But it’s also prized in the electronics and automotive worlds due to its ability to transmit electric force without overheating, even under extreme temperatures. In 2016, Madagascar overtook India as the biggest global exporter of sheet mica.Interviews with executives in Madagascar’s mica industry showed that the prevalence of child labor is well known but largely dismissed as a byproduct of extreme poverty. Taken together, a picture emerges of children as young as 4 years old performing long hours of labor-intensive work in often dangerous conditions to collect a mineral whose price will be inflated nearly 500 times when  leaves Madagascar.  “Working in mines is considered one of the worst forms of child labor,” Claire van Bekkum, manager at Terre des Hommes, said. “They’re in a hazardous situation health-wise and safety-wise.”