Debt Bondage in Mica Mining

Debt Bondage in Mica Mining

It is highly likely that you own products that include mica as an ingredient. It is the mineral that makes our cosmetics, cars and phones sparkle. However workers mining mica are struggling to survive.

Jharkhand state, India, is one of the world’s largest mica producers with an economy in which thousands of families are dependent on mining mica – even though it’s illegal. The average worker can expect to make no more than $US1.50 per day. Workers manually sift through sand to find scraps of mica and enter unstable mines that could collapse at any moment. Without any protective gear – not even proper footwear – inhaling dust from the mica mines causes long-term health issues and lung damage.

Freedom United reports many families turn to exploitative lenders for desperately needed money for food and medical expenses. These lenders, some of whom are the same merchants that miners will sell their mica to, charge exorbitant interest rates, trapping generations and “entire villages” in debt bondage with no hope of ever paying off the loans.

COVID-19 has further exacerbated the already desperate situation for mica-dependent communities. A report in January 2021 found that more people were being pushed into mining mica due to COVID-19 forcing other industries like hospitality to shut down, while existing mica workers in the industry are finding their debts steadily increasing.

Learn more and pledge to take a stand with mica miners against debt bondage today.

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