Massive child labour used for gold in mobile phones
Almost no action by electronics companies to prevent child labour in gold mining
The Hague, November, 2015 – Globally, more than one million children are working in the gold mining industry according to new estimates. The number is growing, for example in the African country Mali, the number of children working in the gold mining industry has increased almost tenfold in recent years: from 20,000 to 200,000 children. The gold they mine ends up at electronics manufacturers who use it to make our mobile phones, computers and other consumer electronics. These are some key findings from the SOMO report Gold from children’s hands, commissioned by the Stop Child Labour coalition. Electronics companies do almost nothing to combat child labour in gold mines, while the probability is very high that the gold ends up in their products.
Role of electronics companies
The electronics industry annually uses 279 000 kilograms of gold worth more than 10 billion euros. This makes the sector the third largest consumer of gold in the world, after the jewelry industry and the financial sector. It makes this industry an influential actor. While manufacturers of consumer electronics indicate that they do not accept child labour, they do not take effective measures to eliminate child labour in the gold mining industry or to ensure that they do not use gold that is extracted using child labour. As a result, they probably contribute to the exploitation of minors and to violation of children's rights.
Therefore it is high time that they exert their influence positively. Electronics companies have shown that they are indeed able to address abuses in their supply chain. Because they have to do the same when using gold and other minerals from conflict areas. That is a legal requirement for stock market listed companies in the United States.
Child labour has to stop
Stop Child Labour calls on the electronics industry to make serious efforts to combat child labour. "It is time for these companies to deal with child labour in their entire supply chain and to look beyond conflict minerals," said Sofie Ovaa, Programme Manager of Stop Child Labour. "Consumers can support this appeal by signing our petition.
The 4.6 million smartphones sold in one year in the Netherlands, contain about 136 kilograms of gold valued at € 4,567,248. Additional research** among Dutch consumers reveals that 67.9% thinks that electronics products made by child labour - or containing raw materials produced by child labour - should be prohibited. Furthermore, 52.2% says to be willing to pay more for products that use gold that is not produced by child labour. Over 40% of the Dutch consumers is not aware of the fact that their electronics contain gold. The full report is available on http://www.stopchildlabour.org.
About Stop Child Labour
‘Stop Child Labour is a Dutch coalition coordinated by Hivos. The coalition consists of the Algemene Onderwijsbond (AOb), FNV Mondiaal, Hivos, the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), Kerk in Actie & ICCO Cooperation and Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland.
Stop Child Labour aims to eliminate all forms of child labour and to ensure quality fulltime education for all children until the age of 15. Stop Child Labour promotes an area-based approach towards the creation of ‘child labour free zones’. The coalition collaborates with organisations in Asia, Africa and Latin America who work on the principle that ‘no child should work; every child must be in school’ and calls on consumers, companies, governments and international organisations to take action for child labour free production chains.