Child Labour in Small-Scale Mines
Juliane Kippenberg, senior children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, has written a comment on South China Morning Post regarding child labour in artisanal and small-scale mines all over the world. Many of the children working in mines don't go to school at all, so they don't get education – the only chance for a better life.
In Tanzania, I met "Julius", a boy of about 13, who works in an artisanal gold mine. He told me he digs ore in pits more than 15 metres deep and mixes toxic mercury with ground ore to retrieve the gold. Once a pit collapsed and almost killed another boy, his friend. The work had made him feel "pain in the whole body".
A boycott of gold mined with child labour will not solve the problem – and would hurt communities that depend on mining. Rather, companies should contribute to efforts to end hazardous child labour and improve access to education. In line with UN Guiding Principles, companies should implement due diligence to ensure they don't benefit from child labour directly or indirectly. Only if the gold industry treats child labour as a priority will the problem be tackled – so children like Julius can have genuine alternatives.
Image via youtube