Child labour is involved in the sourcing of mica used in some cosmetics and make-up products, wrote the Sunday Times in an article published today.

The mineral supplied to chemicals and cosmetics companies worldwide would be collected in the jungle of Jharkhand state in eastern India, a remote area 700 miles (1130 km) east of New Delhi. Poor families, including young children would work in open-cast mines but there would be no case of “permanent work, bonded or slave labour”. However, according to a local child rights group, thousands children may be working in mica mines.

Mic output in 2005 - Source: Wikipedia

Mic output in 2005 - Source: Wikipedia

German pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant, Merck KGaA is pointed out as an important importer of mica from Jharkhand.

According to the Sunday Times, Merck would have said in a statement that its suppliers were “contractually required” not to employ children. The company added, however: “Unfortunately, it is very difficult to monitor further along the supply chain, i.e. with regard to the collection of mica in remote areas, especially since these areas are considered not safe.

The Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association (CTPA), the organisation representing cosmetics manufacturers in Britain, said that cosmetics companies take their social responsibilities in these areas “very seriously”, with companies that are “vigilant to avoid any practices where local people may be exploited, and work to ensure that conditions of the supply chain are maintained at as high a level as possible.

The trade body added it would be “ keen to promote actions ” that would further improve the circumstances of the local communities.