Child gold miners in Mali

Child gold miners in Mali also face serious health consequences.

A December 2011 Human Rights Watch report revealed that children as young as six in Mali dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore. Many children also work with mercury, a toxic substance that attacks the central nervous system, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury is particularly harmful to children.

1 comment
  1. noakrawczyk said:

    The fair trade gold actions being taken definitely seem like a good and just idea at first glance, but I don’t understand how this will actually benefit the workers in the mines. The incentive is that gold from mining organizations that meet standard working conditions will become “fairtade and fairmined certified,” and since consumers/retailers will only buy this certified gold, mining organizations will be forced to improve their working and health conditions. But wouldn’t the process of improving conditions and becoming certified add a cost to gold production that will increase the price of their gold? Since only 12% of market-sold gold comes from artisanal gold mining, this could make it difficult to compete with non-artisanally made gold which might be cheaper and not as controversial to consumers. This might end up making a lot of the small-scale mining go out of business and leaving the miners with no work, as they clearly do not have many alternatives. I think there has to be a more immediate forced intervention to improve working/health conditions in the mines that is not only controlled at the point of market consumption.

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