Global firms beef up investigations of Indian mica suppliers after exposé on child deaths – by Nita Bhalla and Rina Chandran (Daily Mail/Reuters – August 4, 2016)

DELHI/MUMBAI, India, Aug 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – M ajor global companies buying the mineral mica from India vowed on Thursday to beef up inspections of their suppliers for child labour after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed children were dying in illegal mines.

A three-month investigation in the mica-producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh found at least seven children have been killed since June mining for mica, the valued mineral that puts a sparkle in make-up and car paint.

These deaths, feared to be just the tip of the iceberg, have gone unreported as victims’ impoverished families and mine operators do not want to end the illegal mining in abandoned mines and protected forests – often their only source of income.

While officials in Jharkhand and Rajasthan vowed to investigate child deaths following the expose, major companies buying from India said they would examine suppliers – and could stop buying from India without more efforts to end child labour.

“We have immediately started investigations with our direct suppliers,” said a spokesman from German car manufacturer Volkswagen, adding that a meeting with suppliers was now scheduled for later this month.

“Based on the outcome of the results of our investigations we will take corresponding actions based on our internal processes.” BMW said it did not tolerate child labour.

“If the allegations are substantiated, we will do everything to ensure that the supplier involved is no longer part of our supply chain in the future,” a company spokesman said.

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