ANTANANARIVO – Madagascar’s informal and poorly regulated mica industry puts up to 10,000 children to work in unsafe mines. Boys often work underground digging to extract mica ore and are at risk of death by suffocation in the poorly ventilated mines. Girls haul and process mica ore above ground and are often solicited for sex by mica collectors. Many children develop severe respiratory illnesses from mica dust.
The Madagascar Shines Project, a 4.5 million USD cooperative agreement supported by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and PACT, an international nonprofit organization, combats child labor in mica-producing communities in the Anosy region of southern Madagascar. DOL Representative Natalie Kosloff will travel to Taolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin) May 9-10 to meet with project stakeholders and develop the project’s Comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
Madagascar is the largest exporter of sheet mica; it exports 87% of its mica to China where Chinese companies use it to produce electronics and automobile parts sold around the world.
Madagascar’s mica-producing communities experience extreme poverty, exacerbated by economic stresses from the Covid-19 pandemic and an ongoing drought, which have driven down the price of mica and family incomes, produced poor agricultural harvests, and increased food prices and insecurity. As a result, many families feel they must send their children to work in the mica mines to earn money to afford basic necessities.
Madagascar Shines Project will improve the resilience of mining families by providing 1,800 children with educational services and 2,200 adults with livelihood services. The project will raise public awareness about mica mining, build capacity among government officials to better implement child protection measures, and establish a code of conduct for mica mining. Pact will also promote the formalization of the mica sector and advocate for a sustainable mining industry free of child labor.