Would Newt Gingrich approve of children doing this labor? ---BBB
December 6, 2011
6-year-olds working in gold mines in Mali, says Human Rights Watch
By Kate Thomas | Deutsche Presse-Agentur
MONROVIA, Liberia — About 20,000 children are working in illegal mines in Mali, Africa's third biggest gold producer, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch.
Many of the children are less than 10 years old, the group said. Some of the children interviewed were as young as 6. They reported working underground in the makeshift mines, digging shafts and using mercury to separate gold from ore.
"These children literally risk life and limb", said Human Rights Watch's Juliane Kippenberg. "They carry loads heavier than their own weight, climb into unstable shafts, and touch and inhale mercury, one of the most toxic substances on earth."
The group talked to 33 child laborers, some of whom were working in mines to assist their parents. Others came to Mali from neighboring countries of their own accord, or with relatives.
A gram of gold retails for about $40 on Mali's black market.
"Mali has strong laws on child labor and on compulsory and free education, but unfortunately, the government has not fully enforced them," Kippenberg said. "Local officials often benefit from artisanal gold mining and have little interest in addressing child labor."
Mali's artisanal mines export about four metric tons of gold annually, worth around $218 million. Much of it ends up in the United Arab Emirates, in jewelry shops and on market stalls.
The country's more tightly-regulated national and international gold mines officially produce about 60 tons of gold per year.
"If businesses have not done so yet, they need to put in place procedures to ensure their gold has not been mined by children," Kippenberg said. "They should also work with the government and international agencies to eliminate child labor in the mines. Boycott is not the answer."
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/12/06/132328/6-year-olds-working-in-gold-mines.html#ixzz1fs6tml7X