Reduce child labour and improve working conditions in artisanal and small-scale gold mining

Child labour in mining and global supply chains

Child labour in mining is most commonly found in artisanal and small-scale mines (ASM). Even if produced in small quantities at a mine site, cumulatively, the quantity of minerals coming from ASM is significant: ASM accounts for about 20 per cent of global gold supply, 80 per cent of global sapphire supply and 20 per cent of global diamond supply, 26 per cent of global tantalum production and 25 per cent of tin. It is also a major source of employment: some 40 million people work in ASM — a number that has doubled in recent years — as compared with 7 million in industrial mining.

More than 1 million children are engaged in child labour in mines and quarries. This a serious violation of children’s rights that puts children’s health and safety at risk and deprives them of an education. It is a brake on the economic and social development of affected countries, as it limits productivity of work forces for entire generations. It is also a business challenge, because much of the minerals mined by children end up in global supply chains, including those of automobiles, banking, construction, cosmetics, electronics, and jewellery. In the face of this, there are growing demands for action from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, industry leaders, consumer groups and, particularly, mining communities themselves.