Mica, a naturally occurring mineral, is used all over the electronics industry. It is also an important ingredient in paints, construction products and cosmetics. Hence it is clearly understood that mica would be predominantly utilized in the automotive industry, owing to its versatile chemical properties. Mica can be found in car paints, fillers and devices which require electrical, electronic or insulation applications.

Mica used globally can be broken down into three categories

●  Mica as pearlescent pigment

●  Mica in the electronics sector

●  Mica as a functional filler

Demand for mica is continuing to grow and expected to reach higher levels in the upcoming years, especially for paints and coatings as well as in the electronics industry.

India is a huge contributor to high-quality mica and one of the biggest in the world. India’s mica exports have been growing steadily over the past 15 years. The quantity of mica sold abroad from the year 2006 to 2015 has seen a drastic increase of almost 75%. So it is natural that groups of companies would prefer to source mica from here. China is the biggest importer of India’s mica, sourcing up to 67% of the mineral. China is followed by Japan at 9%, Belgium at 7% and the US at 6%.

But the mining is done in a highly unethical manner, thereby putting the life of workers at risk. Children of lower social income groups are being forced to join due to unavailability of money for daily needs. Illegal mining also results in the destruction of flora and fauna. In 2015, nearly 22,000 children were involved in mining from the states of Jharkhand and Bihar. It is estimated that 25% of the world’s mica is sourced from illegal mining sites.

Startled by the prevalence of child labor in mining sites from India, a non-governmental organization named Terre des Hommes (TDH) took the assistance of another NGO, SOMO to conduct research into the violation of children’s rights.

In January 2017 Responsible Mica Initiative was established by TDH, consisting of representatives from 20 companies and organizations. The ultimate aim of this initiative is to eradicate child labour and to improve the working conditions in the Indian mica supply chain within five years.

The 3 mail objectives of this initiative are:

●  Implement fair, responsible and sustainable good practices and increase traceability all along the Indian mica supply chain.

●  Empower local community to ensure long lasting change.

●  Build a legal and livable environment for local communities by working hand-to-hand with the Indian government and local authorities.

Responsible Minerals Initiative in 2019 collaborated with Responsible Mica Initiative extending its support to give an end to this prevailing culture in India.

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