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GLOBAL MICA MINING AND THE IMPACT ON CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

Authors:
  • SOMO Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations
  • SOMO The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations

Abstract and Figures

This study looks at both supply and demand in the global mica market. Since demand drives production, the research identifies the industries – including the electronics and automotive sectors – that are the most significant users of mica. The report also tries to examine the status of risk-based due diligence processes for mica among different industries. Labour conditions, as well as production, export and import statistics around mica mining in the fifteen largest non-western and five largest western mica-producing countries are investigated. Especially child labour is a major problem.
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GLOBAL
MICA MINING
AND THE IMPACT
ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
Authors:
Irene Schipper and Roberta Cowan (SOMO)
Co-review commiee at Terre des Hommes:
Aysel Sabahoglu and Tirza Voss
Layout: Newton21
Photography: © Oscar Timmers, February 2016
This report was made on assignment of Terre des Hommes.
PUBLISHED BY:
Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO)
Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations
Sarphatistraat 30
1018 GL Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: + 31 (20) 6391291
Fax: + 31 (20) 6391321
E-mail: info@somo.nl
Website: www.somo.nl
COMMISSIONED BY:
Terre des Hommes Netherlands
Zoutmanstraat 42-44
2518 GS Den Haag
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (70) 310 5000
E-mail: info@tdh.nl
Website: www.tdh.nl
This document is licensed under the Creative Commons
Aribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivateWorks 4.0 License.
The Centre for Research on
Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
is an independent, not-for-profit
research and network organisation
working on social, ecological and
economic issues related to sustainable
development. Since 1973, the
organisation investigates multinational
corporations and the consequences
of their activities for people and
the environment around the world.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands
prevents child exploitation, removes
children from exploitative situations
and ensures children can develop in
a safe environment. Terre des Hommes
works towards a world where all
children have a decent life and can
grow up to be independent adults.
A world in which children are no
longer exploited. Terre des Hommes
will continue its work until this
is accomplished.
GLOBAL
MICA MINING
AND THE IMPACT
ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
MARCH 2018
COLOPHON
Preface 9
1. Executive summary 13
2. Introduction 20
2.1. Background of the study 20
2.2. e research objectives 20
2.3. Research methodology 20
2.3.1. Mapping global production and risks to children 21
2.3.2. Analysing the global mica market 22
2.3.3. Analysing the demand for mica by different industries 22
2.4. Sources of information 22
2.5. Disclaimer on data, statistics, estimates and figures 24
2.6. Review process 24
2.7. Structure of the report 25
3. Basic facts about mica and the global mica market 26
3.1. What is mica? 26
3.2. e global mica market 27
3.2.1. Natural mica 28
3.2.2. Synthetic mica 29
3.2.3. Substitutes for mica 31
3.3. Mica by grade 32
3.3.1. Ground mica 33
3.3.2. Sheet mica 33
3.3.3. Built-up mica 34
3.3.4. Global market value of mica by grade 34
3.4. Mica mining methods 34
3.4.1. Mining of sheet mica 35
3.4.2. Mining of scrap mica 36
4. Mica and the industries that use it 38
4.1. End-users in the global mica market 38
4.1.1. Electronics indust 40
4.1.2. Paints and coatings indust 40
4.1.3. Cosmetics and personal care indust 41
4.1.4. Construction indust 41
4.1.5. Other industries 41
5. Mica used by the electronics industry 42
5.1. Introduction 42
5.1.1. Information provided by indust sources 42
5.2. e difference between electrical and electronic devices 43
5.3. Where is mica found in electronics? 44
5.3.1. Mica on printed circuit boards 44
5.3.2. Mica capacitors 45
5.3.3. Mica in sensors 46
CONTENTS
5.3.4. Mica as part of semiconductor systems 46
5.3.5. Mica in lithium-ion baeries 46
5.3.6. Mica in plastics for electronics 46
5.3.7. Overview of mica in electronics components 48
5.4. Where is mica found in electrical applications? 48
5.4.1. Insulation 48
5.4.2. Overview of mica in electrical devices 49
6. Mica used by the automotive industry 50
6.1. Introduction 50
6.2. Car case example 50
6.3. e volume of mica in cars 52
7. Due diligence by the electronics and automotive industries 53
7.1. Non-binding regulations 53
7.1.1. UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 53
7.1.2. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises 54
7.1.3. European Union Conflict Minerals Regulation (EU 2017/821) 55
7.2. Mica due diligence state of affairs: the front runners 56
7.3. Challenges experienced by companies in the mica due diligence process 57
8. Mica mining risk analysis 59
8.1. Sheet mica mining 59
8.2. Illegal mica mining 60
8.3. Weak governance and conflict 61
9. Global sheet mica deposits 63
9.1.1. India and Madagascar 64
9.1.2. China 66
9.1.3. Brazil 67
10. Risk classification of mica-producing countries 68
10.1. Introduction 68
10.2. Analysis 70
11. Conclusions and recommendations 75
11.1. Conclusions 75
11.1.1. Conclusions on the global mica market and end-users 75
11.1.2. Conclusions on risk indicators 76
11.1.3. Conclusions on due diligence efforts 77
11.1.4. Conclusions on the count risk analysis 77
11.1.5. General conclusions on mica 78
11.2. Recommendations 78
11.2.1. Recommendations for companies 78
11.2.2. Recommendations for governments and the EU 80
11.2.3. Recommendations for NGOs 81
11.2.4. Recommendations for the public 81
Appendix: Classification codes for mica 82
4GLOBAL MICA MINING 5
FIGURES AND TABLES
IN THE REPORT
List of figures
Figure 1 Flowchart of mica production
Figure 2 Growth expectations in the two main categories of mica
Figure 3 Indicative market size of mica
Figure 4 Analysis of global mica market value share by form, 2016 and 2024
Figure 5 Flowchart of mica production
Figure 6 Global market value of mica by grade
Figure 7 Global market value of mica by grade in 2016 and 2024
Figure 8 Global mica market, value share by end-user, 2015 and 2024
Figure 9 Mica market annual growth analysis by end-user
Figure 10 Major exporting countries of sheet mica by volume in tonnes, 2015-2016
Figure 11 India and Madagascar sheet mica exports by volume in tonnes, 2012-2016
Figure 12 Madagascar’s mica exports, 2015-2016
Figure 13 Brazil’s mica exports, 2015-2016
Figure 14 Mica production, exports and imports in 2015 of 20 countries (in tonnes, ranked on export)
Figure 15 China’s mica imports 2016
Figure 16 China’s mica exports 2016
Figure 17 Mica exports from non-western countries in 2015
List of tables
Table 1 Applications of mica in electronics
Table 2 Applications of mica in electrical devices
Table 3 Exports of sheet mica by India and Madagascar by value and volume, 2012-2016
Table 4 Percentage of sheet mica in Madagascar’s total mica exports, 2012-2016
Table 5 Countries classified by risk and red flags
ACRONYMS
AIAG Automotive Industry Action Group
ASM Artisanal and small-scale mining
BGS British Geological Survey
CAGR Compound Annual Growth Rate
CAS Code Chemical Abstract Service Code
CSR Corporate Social Responsibility
EICC Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition
EU European Union
HS Codes Harmonised System Codes
ILO International Labour Organisation
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
OEC Observatory of Economic Complexity
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
PCB Printed Circuit Board
RBA Responsible Business Alliance
RMI Responsible Minerals Initiative
SER Social Economic Council (the Netherlands)
SOMO Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen
(Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations)
SDGs Sustainable Development Goals
UN United Nations
UNCRC UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
USGS United States Geological Survey
UNGP UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
TDH Terre des Hommes
TMR Transparency Market Research
6GLOBAL MICA MINING 7
PREFACE
ABOUT TERRE DES HOMMES
Terre des Hommes Netherlands (hereinaer Terre des
Hommes) is an international non-governmental
organisation that works to create a world free of child
exploitation. Since 1965 it has protected children
from exploitation, violence, child labour, trafficking,
sexual exploitation, poverty and malnutrition.
The target groups of Terre des Hommes are children at
risk
of exploitation and children who are the victims of
exploitation. Children at risk are vulnerable children who
are marginalised socially, economically, physically or
culturally and, as such, easily become victims of exploita-
tion. Child exploitation involves serious violations of the
rights of the child. Terre des Hommes’ definition covers
the worst forms of child labour, child trafficking, sexual
exploitation, child abuse and violations of the sexual
health and reproductive rights of a child.
Terre des Hommes uses evidence-based strategies to
promote, prevent, protect and prosecute within the
context of childrens rights. Guided by the UN Conven-
tion on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Terre des
Hommes researches, documents, and takes action to
expose and confront violations of children’s rights.
Its ‘5 Ps’ approach – partnership, promotion, prevention,
protection and prosecution – is multi-faceted and
holistic. A prerequisite for Terre des Hommes’ work is
that it works together with local partners, and pro-
grammes are developed in cooperation with grassroots
organisations that understand the local context and
know what works best in a given situation.
Terre des Hommes supports the implementation of its
programmes through technical guidance and advocacy
to achieve long-term impact and societal change. Terre
des Hommes is involved in strategic multi-stakeholder
partnerships with the private sector to end child labour
in global value chains. By promoting children’s rights
through advocacy and by raising policy awareness, it
calls upon authorities and legislators to step up to
comply with their responsibilities.
CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
Terre des Hommes has a long-standing presence in
India. With nearly every fih child in the world living
there, the country is home to the largest number of
children on the planet. In total, this means that there
are about 430 million Indian children, and among
these an estimated forty per cent live in difficult
circumstances. India has a low rate of child immunisa-
tion coverage, and in remote areas child protection
systems are lacking and children are usually not
registered at birth.
In 2015, alarmed by the prevalence of child labour
specifically in Jharkand and Bihar, Terre des Hommes
commissioned SOMO to conduct research into the
violations of children’s rights in the mica mines in
these provinces. The objective of this first research was
threefold: 1) to determine the current magnitude of
child labour in the mica belt in Jharkhand and Bihar;
2) to provide insight into the main companies involved
in the mica supply chain, with a special focus on Dutch
companies, as well as the due diligence conducted by
these companies; and 3) to look into pending initiatives
to eradicate child labour.
The research revealed that mica mining is an impor-
tant source of income for hundreds of villages in
Jharkhand and Bihar. The mining entails more than
collecting pieces of mica from the ground. Explosives
and/or air-compressed hammers are oen used to
crush rocks, and dangerous underground holes are dug
to access mica of a beer quality. With the exception of
9
two mines in Bihar, all mining in Jharkhand and Bihar
was illegal. Aer India's central government imple-
mented its Forest Conservation Act in 1980, mining
licenses in the area were not renewed.
The initial research report from 2016 showed that
approximately 300 villages in the states of Jharkand
and Bihar – which are home to the world's largest mica
mining area and account for an estimated 25 per cent
of total global production – are involved in illegal
artisanal small-scale mining (ASM).
The villages are oen located in remote areas, and
children may either work aer school or not aend
school at all. The report concluded that there were no
initiatives at that time to provide a living wage for the
labourers involved with mica mining and processing.
The research showed that mica is used in paints and
cosmetics, but also mentions its use in cars, electronics
and construction. The number of children involved in
mica mining in Jharkand and Bihar was estimated to
total up to 22,000. Field research following these results
counted at least 22,000 children in an area that did not
even cover half of the mica belt. The research also
showed that no company could certify that child labour
was not involved in the mica used in their end products.
The report created much awareness on the plight of
children in Jharkand and Bihar, both within India and
in the global market. As a result, Terre des Hommes is
now implementing a social empowerment programme
to eradicate child labour in Jharkand and Bihar. It is
also involved in the Responsible Mica Initiative
multi-stakeholder partnership, which aims to eradicate
child labour and implement fair and sustainable mica
collection, processing and sourcing in India.
THE POSITION OF TERRE DES HOMMES
ON CHILD LABOUR
Terre des Hommes believes that all of the worst forms
of child labour should be abolished, and that no child
should be involved in hazardous and exploitative forms
of labour, as defined in the International Labour Organ-
isation (ILO) Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of
Child Labour.
Pursuant to the UNCRC, a child is defined as every
person below the age of 18. Child labour refers to all
kinds of labour that jeopardise a child’s physical,
mental, educational or social development. Hazardous
child labour is prohibited for all children, in line with
Convention 182. Child labour used for dangerous
activities – such as work with toxic and dangerous
substances in mining, as well as prostitution and
bonded labour – should be immediately eliminated.
Harmful social norms, the violation of labourers
rights, poor law enforcement, and poor educational
policies remain the key underlying causes for the
prevalence of child labour. Countries with a well-
educated work force, effective social policies, and low
levels of poverty tend to have less child labour. The
countries with the highest proportion of working
children tend to be the least developed countries. The
key to eradicating child labour is therefore a holistic
approach: covering poverty reduction, social protection,
quality education and law enforcement; taking into
account all social and cultural factors; and ensuring
ownership by the government.
International Labour Organisation Conventions 138 and 182
The two main conventions focusing specifically on
child labour – on the minimum age for admission to
employment (No. 138, 1973), and on the worst forms of
child labour (No. 182, 1999) – were developed by the
International Labour Organisation.
Convention 138 sets the age at which children can
legally be employed or otherwise work. The minimum
age for work should not be below the age for finishing
compulsory schooling, and in any case should not be
under 151. Hazardous work should not be done by
anyone under the age of 18.
Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
commits its members to take immediate action to
eliminate the worst forms of child labour within their
states. These involve children being enslaved, forcibly
recruited, prostituted, trafficked, forced into illegal
activities, or exposed to work that is considered
“hazardous work.
2 ILO, What is child labour, http://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang--en/index.htm
3 ILO Convention 182 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:12100:0::NO:12100:P12100_INSTRUMENT_ID:312327
4 OECD, Practical actions for companies to identify and address the worst forms of child labour in mineral supply chains, 2017,
https://mneguidelines.oecd.org/Practical-actions-for-worst-forms-of-child-labour-mining-sector.pdf, (February, 2017)
5 General Comment No.16, 2013
Child labour refers to children working in contravention
of the ILO standards contained in Conventions 138
and 182. It refers to work that is either dangerous or
harmful to children (or both), and work that interferes
with or completely disrupts school aendance and
schooling in general2. This covers all children below
12 years of age working in any economic activities;
those between 12 and 14 years of age engaged in more
than light work; and all children engaged in the worst
forms of child labour.
As specified in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work (1998), ILO Conventions
No. 138 and 182 on child labour are considered to be
“core”, fundamental conventions. Under the ILO
Declaration, even the member states that have not yet
ratified these conventions should respect, promote, and
realise the principles stated within them.
This means that all member states are required to
prevent the involvement of children in dangerous
situations; to remove children presently working in the
worst forms of child labour; to ensure access to educa-
tion instead of child labour; to identify and reach out to
at-risk groups; and to take the special situation of girls
into account.3
Of all forms of hazardous work, mining is by far the
most mortally dangerous sector for children, with an
average fatality rate of 32 per 100,000 children between
the ages of 5 and 17. By way of comparison, fatality rates
in agriculture and construction are respectively 16.8
and 15 children per 100,000. Mining in itself is hazard-
ous work, making it a worst form of child labour.4
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and General
Comment No. 16. With regard to child labour, the
UNCRC states that members must recognise a child’s
right to be protected from economic exploitation.
The convention obliges states to take legislative,
administrative, social and educational measures to
ensure that these requirements are implemented.
The UNCRC acknowledges that although businesses can
be essential drivers for societies and economies in
achieving children’s rights, they can also have a negative
impact. The UNCRC Commiee’s General Comment
No. 16 complements the UN Guiding Principles on
Business and Human Rights. The General Comment
has a number of aims: to provide states with guidance
on how they should ensure that the activities and
operations of businesses do not adversely impact the
rights of children; to create an enabling and supportive
environment for businesses to respect children’s rights;
and to ensure access to effective remedies for children
whose rights have been infringed upon by a company
acting as a private party or as a state agent. The General
Comment encourages businesses to conduct their due
diligence, and to identify, prevent and mitigate their
impact on children's rights across their business
relationships and within global operations. Where
there is a high risk of child rights’ violations by
companies, due to the nature of their operations or
their operating contexts, states should require a
stricter process of due diligence and an effective
monitoring system.5
TERRE DES HOMMES’ CONTRIBUTION TO
THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
On 25 September 2015, heads of state from 193 coun-
tries launched the Post-2015 Development Agenda,
adopting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and
169 specific related targets to be implemented world-
wide by 2030. Targets 8.7 and 16.2 directly focus on
eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2025:
Goal 8.7: Take immediate action and effective
measures to eradicate forced labour, end
modern slavery and human trafficking,
secure the prohibition and elimination of
the worst forms of child labour, including
the recruitment and use of child soldiers,
and end child labour in all its forms by
2025; and
Goal 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and
all forms of violence against and torture
of children.
The ILO estimates that 152 million children are victims
of child labour, with almost half of them (73 million)
working in hazardous situations. Children are in high
demand because they work for low wages, or even for
1 There are possible exceptions for developing countries to set the minimum age at 14.
10 GLOBAL MICA MINING 11
Children are suffering in the depths of illegal mica
mines in India. Research in 2016 uncovered the death
of seven children in a period of just two months.
Abrasions, broken bones and lung disease are part of
the daily existence of child mica miners.
The first mica investigations of SOMO and Terre des
Hommes in 2015 estimated that up to 22,000 children
were involved in mica mining in the Indian states of
Jharkhand and Bihar. This was a clear indication that
industries and companies using mica sourced from
India are directly contributing to the worst forms of
child labour.
Many companies source their mica from India, due to
the vast amount of high-quality mica available in the
country. However, India it is not the only country where
mica is mined, nor the only one where children work
in mica mines.
Mica is used to make products like cosmetics and
paints shimmer. But its other extraordinary qualities
– including perfect cleavage, flexibility, elasticity,
chemical inertness, infusibility, low thermal and
electrical conductivity, and high dielectric strength –
explain the wide use of the mineral across many
sectors. Mica is particularly essential for the electronics
industry.
In the context of the Responsible Mica Initiative and
dialogues between Terre des Hommes and companies
across diverse industries, questions were raised about
free, and are easy to influence and control. However,
they are also more vulnerable and face high risks of
abuse, violent acts, and other violations of their funda-
mental rights. In the majority of these cases, and
regardless of the type of exploitation they endure,
children have no access to basic services guaranteeing
the fulfilment of their fundamental rights (schooling,
social services, healthcare, sanitation, recreation
centres, and psychosocial support). All too oen, the
sole aim of legislators is to prohibit child labour,
without taking into account individual situations and
the root causes of this phenomenon, and above all
without offering alternative income-generating
possibilities to the families concerned.
Terre des Hommes chooses dialogue between the
private and public sectors as the necessary intervention
to address the root causes of child labour. To enable
progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,
and as an integral part of a genuine policy of social
responsibility in formal and informal enterprises, we
seek to confront the private sector with our findings
and encourage businesses to use their leverage to
achieve social impact.
RATIONALE FOR A GLOBAL
SCOPING STUDY
The first study investigated mica mining in only two
states in India. Confronted with questions from key
players in mica value chains and global players in
various industries, Terre des Hommes commissioned a
second study to respond to questions about the presence,
magnitude, and risk of child labour and other human
rights violations in the extraction of mica on a global
scale. A global scoping study was needed in order to
address some of the ‘risk avoidance’ tendencies within
the industries. With this new research, Terre des
Hommes wants to raise awareness on the risk of child
rights violations in the mica mining industry. Together
with key stakeholders from the corporate sector and the
government, Terre des Hommes wants to create safer,
beer paid livelihoods for vulnerable mica communities.
This research supports Terre des Hommes in determin-
ing the right strategies. It gives a beer understanding
of the global risks; identifies the potential leverage of
different industries and companies;
and indicates the
feasibility of using synthetic mica as an alternative to
natural mica.
Terre des Hommes would like to thank Irene Schipper
and Roberta Cowan at SOMO for their relentless efforts
to trace mica in global value chains. This report is the
work of SOMO, supported by Terre des Hommes staff
members Aysel Sabahoglu and Tirza Voss. The findings
will guide Terre des Hommes in its programming,
advocacy and future research.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands, 2018
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
12 GLOBAL MICA MINING 13
the risks of child labour and other human rights
violations in mica extraction. These questions referred
to states beyond Jharkhand and Bihar in India, but also
to mica mining outside the country. The outcome was
this global scoping study on mica mining and the
possible impacts on children’s rights, which aims to
address these queries.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND
METHODOLOGY
The main objectives of this study are to map mica
production globally, and to identify direct or indirect
links to child labour or any other relevant children’s
rights violations.
The study looks at both supply and demand in the
global mica market. Since demand drives production,
the research identifies the industries – including the
electronics and automotive sectors – that are the most
significant users of mica. The report also tries to
examine the status of risk-based due diligence process-
es for mica among different industries. Labour condi-
tions, as well as production, export and import statistics
around mica mining in the fieen largest non-western
and five largest western mica-producing countries are
investigated.
THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
BASIC FACTS
Once mined, crude mica becomes either sheet mica or
scrap mica. Sheet mica is the basis for all sheet mica
products, as well as built-up mica and fabricated mica,
which are all used mainly by the electronics industry.
Scrap mica is the basis of mica flakes, mica powder and
mica paper.
Scrap mica is used mainly by the paints and coatings,
construction and cosmetics industries. The electronics
industry also uses mica powder as filler and mica flakes
for mica paper, mica tape, mica tubes and other flexible
mica products. In these last products, mica is combined
with binding products such as silicone and used for
insulation in electronics and electrical products.
THE GLOBAL MINING MARKET
The market consists of two types of mica: natural mica
and synthetic mica. According to a commercial market
analysis, natural mica accounts for 90 per cent of the
total mica market and the remaining 10 per cent is
synthetic mica. The market share for synthetic mica is
not expected to grow by more than two per cent over
the coming ten years, which means that natural mica
will not be replaced by synthetic mica in any signifi-
cant or market-changing way. Currently, almost all
synthetic mica production is for the cosmetics industry,
and a smaller portion is used for pearlescent pigments
in paints. The total market for natural mica is expected
to continue to grow due to increasing demand by the
main end-user industries.
INDUSTRIES DRIVING THE DEMAND FOR MICA
In terms of value, the electronics industry was the
biggest purchaser of mica in 2015 (26 per cent), fol-
lowed by paints and coatings (24 per cent), construction
(20 per cent) and cosmetics (18 per cent).
This report shows that the electronics industry uses far
more mica than was previously understood, and that the
awareness of where mica is found in electronics is very
low, even among industry players and their supply chain
experts. In this report, the electronics industry is defined
in the broadest sense and includes the production of
electronic products (e.g. consumer electronics) as well as
electrical products and electronics for other industries.
Any electronic device – including for example comput-
ers, printers, televisions, stereos, digital clocks, remote
controllers, gaming devices, and microwave ovens – has
components that have been identified in this research
as containing some form of mica. Typical electronics
components that may contain mica include capacitors,
resistors and transistors, all of which can be mounted
on printed circuit boards (PCBs). Other widely-used
electronics components identified as possibly contain-
ing mica include semiconductor systems, various
high-voltage and lithium baeries, sensors, displays,
LEDs, adaptors, card sockets, DRAM, encoders, keypads,
power modules, SSDs, and wires, cables and computer
housing.
It was also revealed that the automotive industry uses
significantly more mica than was previously under-
stood, and that mica is not only to be found in car
paints and coatings. Mica in used in cars for compo-
nents and parts that cross many different automotive
systems and processes – electrical, electronic and
mechanical – and also functions as a lubricant and
filler. Given the number of car parts that can contain
mica (one company identified 15,000 possibilities), the
total use of mica in one car is substantial. Given that 88
million new cars were sold in 2016 alone, the overall
use of mica by the automotive sector is enormous.
MAIN RISKS ATTACHED TO MICA MINING
Sheet mining is a labour-intensive process, and is
predominantly carried out by the very poor and vulner-
able in low-wage countries. Miners must travel deep
down into narrow mining shas, and the work is
arduous and dangerous. A significant part of the work is
done by hand, using hammers and pry bars. Sheet
miners are paid less than a living wage, are unprotected,
and are easily exploited. They oen work in remote
areas where health and education is not available, and
their children may also work to contribute to the family
wage. This research concludes that non-western
countries with substantial sheet mica production are
high-risk countries when it comes to possible negative
impacts on children’s rights.
When scrap mica is recovered as by-product of sheet
mining – which is the case in India and likely in all
other countries with a substantial amount of sheet mica
production – the above-mentioned risks for sheet
mining must also be taken into account. In these
countries, the mining of sheet mica and the mining of
scrap mica are interdependent. Companies that solely
use ground mica are therefore not safeguarded from
child labour in their supply chains.
The red flag countries in the context of sheet mining
and scrap mica as a by-product of sheet mining are
Madagascar, India, China, Brazil and Sri Lanka. The
most important end-markets for sheet mica include the
electronics and automotive industries.
Other important red flags appear when analysing the
discrepancies between production and trade figures for
mica, including export and import statistics. Mica
export figures that exceed official mica production
figures provide a strong indication of illegal mining.
Although legal mines do not necessarily guarantee
good or fair working conditions and a living wage, they
are at any rate subject to inspections, regulations and
certifications. If mining is illegal, the risks related to
working conditions, health and safety, pollution, abuse
(including sexual abuse), security, exploitation and
displacement are all likely to increase, as are the
negative impacts on childrens rights and the risks of
child labour. Most of the mica mines in India are illegal.
Other countries suspected of operating illegal mica
mines include Madagascar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri
Lanka and South Africa.
The research concludes that Madagascar has become
increasingly important as an exporter of mica. The
country is the fourth-largest mica exporter worldwide,
and has been the largest global exporter of sheet mica
since 2015. Madagascar’s state is weak, the political
context is fragile, and violence and corruption are
commonplace. Weak governments with no oversight or
authority over illegal mica mines increase the risk that
children’s rights will be violated.
Crude Mica
Scrap micaSheet mica
Mica powderBuilt-up mica Mica akesSheet products Mica paperFabricated mica
47%
OF MARKET
VALUE
53%
OF MARKET
VALUE
6 Website Gunpatroy Pvt. Ltd, About mica, http://www.grmica.com/About_Mica.php#aa, (December 2017).
Source: Gunpatroy Pvt. Ltd,6 adapted by SOMO.
14 GLOBAL MICA MINING 15
GUILTY OF CHILD LABOUR IN MICA MINING
SUSPECTED OF CHILD LABOUR IN MICA MINING
SUSPECTED OF ILLEGAL MICA MINING (HIGH RISK CHILD LABOUR)
SUBSTANTIAL SHEET MICA PRODUCTION (HIGH RISK CHILD LABOUR)
HIGH USAGE OF MICA MINED WITH CHILD LABOUR
MICA PRODUCING COUNTRIES CLASSIFIED BY RISK
INDICATORS FOR HIGH-RISK COUNTRIES
In total, five indicators (or ‘risk categories’) were used to
classify countries by their risk levels related to chil-
dren’s rights violations within the context of mica
mining. The presence of sheet mica mining and the
existence of illegal mining are two of the five indicators
used to assess risks to children. Two other indicators are
reports of child labour and the ‘suspected’ use of child
labour in mica mining. Child labour is suspected in
countries when there is evidence of other child labour
in mining or mining-related activities in the country,
regardless of what is being mined. For example, gold
and mica are found in the same region in Peru, and the
use of child labour for gold mining in that country is
widely reported. The same can be said about child
labour in Brazilian talc mines, which are in the same
region as the country's mica deposits. In Pakistan, it is
reported that children produce bricks and mine coal,
salt and gemstones. Children also work in the gem
mines in Sri Lanka, while child labour in Chinese gold
mines is a documented problem.
The countries that have a reported use of child labour in
mica mining are India and Madagascar. In addition to
Jharkhand and Bihar, children are also reportedly
working in mica mines in Rajasthan and possibly also in
Andhra Pradesh (as illegal sheet mica mining also takes
place there). This however needs further investigation.
The fih indicator for high-risk countries is having
high levels of mica imports from countries where
children's rights are negatively affected in the mining
process, in particular Madagascar and India. These
importing countries are ‘lynchpins’ between mica
produced with child labour and the global market. The
lynchpin countries identified in this report are China,
South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. Companies sourcing
mica, or products containing mica, from these coun-
tries risk using mica mined by children in their supply
chains.
The research shows that India, Madagascar, China, Sri
Lanka, Pakistan and Brazil are the countries most at
risk of violating childrens rights in the context of mica
mining, scoring on at least two and sometimes three
indicators.
Moderate-risk countries (scoring positive on one
indicator) include South Africa and Malaysia for being
suspected of illegal mica mining, and South Korea,
Taiwan and Russia for being lynchpin countries.
Iran, Peru and Sudan were included in this research as
mica-producing countries; however, current export
levels in these countries are very low or non-existent. It
is possible that these countries may expand mica
mining in the future, and in that case should be
investigated as they are potential high-risk countries
due to the presence of child labour in mining activities.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COMPANIES
This report shows that the electronics and automobile
industries use significant amounts of both sheet and
scrap mica, far more than previously understood and in
many different components. Other industries that use
substantial amounts of mica are the paints and coat-
ings, construction, cosmetics, plastics and ink, oil well
drilling and rubber industries.
This report concludes that companies in these indus-
tries are at high risk of being involved in the worst
forms of child labour in their supply chains related to
mica mining. These companies should not tolerate,
profit from, contribute to, assist with or facilitate the
violation of children’s rights in the course of doing
business. Moreover, they should commit to eradicating
the worst forms of child labour in mica mining from
their supply chains, both upstream and downstream.
A risk-based due diligence approach, according to the
OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and
the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human
Rights, implies that the efforts of companies to (i)
identify, (ii) prevent or mitigate, and (iii) account for
actual and potential adverse impacts should be propor-
tional to the risks and severity of the (potential)
impacts. In the case of mica, the risks of contributing to
the worst forms of child labour are high, and the
impacts of child labour are severe and irremediable.
To date, the due diligence efforts in the electronics and
automotive sectors are very recent and are still in the
exploratory stage. In general, companies have not yet
decided whether or not it is worthwhile to start a due
diligence trajectory specifically for mica. Some front
runners in these sectors have started initial sensing
research on the application of mica in their products.
The countries of origin of the mica in their products
have so far not been identified, and it can therefore be
concluded that a risk assessment has not yet taken
place. It is recommended that the companies in the
above-mentioned sectors scale up their due diligence
efforts concerning mica in their supply chains, regard-
less of the volumes used. The leading standard in this
respect is the OECD guide “Practical actions for compa-
nies to identi and address the worst forms of child labour
in mineral supply chains” (2017). Companies should first
and foremost identify the countries of origin of the
mica they are using for their products.
Companies should refrain from the tendency of risk
avoidance. They should choose to use their leverage,
rather than simply leaving a high-risk situation, opting
out by using synthetic mica, or circumventing risk
countries. When companies believe that they have lile
leverage because they are not sourcing directly or
because the application of mica is performed several
tiers away, it is recommended that they engage in
strategic multi-stakeholder partnerships with civil
society organisations working to end child labour in
the global value chain of mica. It is also recommended
that companies engage in social empowerment pro-
grammes that address the root causes of child labour.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NGOS
NGO strategies to make end-users accountable for
contributing to the worst forms of child labour when
using mica in their products were initially focused on
cosmetics companies and the pearlescent pigment
producers supplying the cosmetics industry. This
research shows that it is equally important to focus on
other sectors. The development of strategies towards
16 GLOBAL MICA MINING 17
the electronics and automotive sectors, which make
massive use of this essential mineral in their products,
is also recommended. These sectors are also the main
buyers of sheet mica, which carries high risks in
relation to human rights impacts. Other major end
markets that should be targeted include the paints and
coatings, construction, plastics and ink, oil well drilling
and rubber industries.
It is also recommended that NGOs broaden their
targets for the inclusion of countries in responsible
mica sourcing initiatives. More research needs to be
done on the countries classified as a high-risk in
relation to children’s rights violations. The priorities
include Madagascar, China, Brazil and Sri Lanka,
followed by Pakistan, South Africa and Malaysia.
An extensive investigation should be carried out in
order to assess political volatility, corruption, conflict
and violence in Madagascar, and to ascertain if any
mica sourced there is traded illegally to finance conflict
and violence. Should this be the case, NGOs should
initiate advocacy efforts in order to have mica identi-
fied as a conflict mineral.
ere are many different terms used to describe mica.
Geologists, companies, trade experts and market
analysts use different definitions to suit their specific
needs. For clarity, please find definitions below. Note
that this report refers to scrap mica and sheet mica,
which are both extracted from what is termed crude
mica.
GLOSSARY
Crude mica
Mica blocks
Mica splittings
Built up mica
Sheet mica products Fabricated mica
Mica Scrap
Mica powder
Micapaper products
Condensor akes Fabricated paper
Sheet mica
THE FLOWCHART SHOWS THE MOST IMPORTANT TERMS EXPLAINED IN THE GLOSSARY.
Figure 1: Flowchart of mica production Source: Gunpatroy Pvt. Ltd, adapted by SOMO.
Built-up mica A laminate product made from mica
blocks or spliings that are layered
with other products and glued together.
Also called micanite products.
Crude mica
Ordinary mica crystals as they come
out of a mine, in the form of rough
'books' or lumps of irregular shape, size
and thickness. Also called raw mica.
Fabricated mica Pieces of sheet mica that are cut and
punched according to required
specifications with a simple machine.
Ground mica A collective term for mica flakes and
mica powder.
Mica flakes The result when scrap mica is pro-
cessed into flakes by crushing. Mica
flakes are sold in different sizes,
indicated in meshes.
Mica paper The result when scrap mica is pulped
aer crushing with various binders
and pressed into paper-like sheets.
Mica powder The result when scrap mica is pro-
cessed into powder by grinding. Size
differences of the mica powder are
connected to the grinding method:
whether dry ground (APS 1.2 mm to
150 µm), wet ground (APS 90 to 45 µm)
or micronised (APS <53 µm).
Mica spliings
Mica spliings consist of sheets split
from mica blocks. The combined
thickness of the sheets does not exceed
0.30 mm. They are chiefly used in the
manufacture of built-up mica products.
Natural mica A silicate mineral that occurs in
igneous, sedimentary and metamor-
phic rocks. Although there are 37
different types of natural mica, only
muscovite and phlogopite have any
real commercial value.
Scrap mica Scrap mica is a by-product of the
mining, trimming and fabricating of
sheet mica. It can also be recovered as
a by-product or co-product of feldspar,
quartz and kaolin beneficiations.
Sheet mica The larger mica crystals that are
characterised by highly perfect
cleavage, so that they readily separate
into very thin and more or less elastic
sheets. Sheet mica is cut by hand from
mica blocks or crude mica.
Synthetic mica This mica is made artificially. The
result is fluorine-containing mica
with characteristics of muscovite or
phlogopite.
18 GLOBAL MICA MINING 19
2.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The harsh daily reality for thousands of Indian chil-
dren working in mines that supply mica – used to make
shampoo and cosmetics shimmer and car paint sparkle
in the sun – was the focus of the childrens rights
campaign Stop child labour in mica mines launched by
Terre des Hommes in 2016.
But mica does much more than make consumer
products look and feel more luxurious. Mica's electrical,
physical and chemical properties make it one of
nature’s most useful and widely used minerals across
many sectors. It turns out that mica is essential for the
electronics industry, and can be found in virtually any
electronic or electrical device.
Following the campaign and the publication of the
Beau and a Beast: Child labour in India for sparkling cars
and cosmetics report,7 Terre des Hommes started a
dialogue with numerous companies across different
sectors. One of the results was the establishment of the
Responsible Mica Initiative in January 2017. The
Responsible Mica Initiative is a 'do tank', an action-ori-
ented think tank, which aims to eradicate child labour
and unacceptable working conditions in the Indian
mica supply chain within the next five years by joining
forces across industries and sectors.8 The Indian States
of Jharkhand and Bihar – the focus of the initial Terre
des Hommes report – are the priority zones in address-
ing these issues within the Responsible Mica Initiative.
In the context of these events, stakeholders raised
questions about the risks of child labour and other
human rights violations connected to the extraction of
mica beyond Jharkhand and Bihar. In order to be able to
respond, as well as to address the ‘risk avoidance’ tenden-
cies within the industries, Terre des Hommes decided
that a global scoping study on mica was required.
2.2 .THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The main objective of this study is to map global mica
production and to identify direct or indirect links to
child labour, or any other relevant children’s rights
violations, within the context of mica mining worldwide.
The study aims to classify the main mica-producing
countries according to the risk of violations of children's
rights.
Another objective of this study is to analyse the global
mica market in terms of supply and demand. There is
currently no oversight regarding the supply of mica to
different industries; for example what forms or grades
of mica are traded, and in what volumes.
Since demand drives production, another objective of
the study is to analyse specific uses by some of the
industries that are significant users of mica, including
the electronics and automotive industries. The research
aims to show where mica is found in their products,
and what volumes are used by different industries.
Finally, the research will address the consequences of
the use of mica by the industries in question regarding
their obligations for risk-based due diligence in the
realm of human rights, and will record the state of
affairs in efforts towards due diligence by the front
runners.
2.3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The methodology in this research covered different
phases in order to accomplish the different research
objectives. These phases were:
Mapping global production and the risks to children.
This included identifying the countries and the risks,
and categorising the countries by risk.
Analysing the global mica market. This included
2. INTRODUCTION
7 SOMO/Terre des Hommes, “Beauty and a Beast”, May 2016, https://www.somo.nl/beauty-and-a-beast/, (20 January 2018).
8 Responsible Mica Initiative, http://www.responsible-mica-initiative.com/index.html
presenting the market shares of natural versus
synthetic mica, and ground mica versus sheet mica.
Analysing the demand for mica by different indus-
tries, and researching how mica is used in products
(especially in cars and electronics).
Analysing the risk-based human rights due diligence
obligations for companies using mica in their products.
The methodology used in these different phases is
described in more detail below.
2.3.1. MAPPING GLOBAL PRODUCTION
AND RISKS TO CHILDREN
Twenty of the main mica-producing countries world-
wide were selected for this analysis, in consultation
with Terre des Hommes. The selection has a strong
focus on non-western countries, since it was assumed
that the possible impacts of child rights violations are
highest in these countries. The inclusion of the top five
western countries makes it possible to put the produc-
tion volumes and the characteristics of mica mining
into a global context. The selected countries were
identified through the United States Geological Survey
(USGS) annual mica mining report as the world's top
mica-producing countries, and were further analysed
individually.
The individual country analyses cover the following
questions:
What are the details of the mica mining? What are
the production, export and import data for mica?
Who are the key industry players?
What are the human rights risks related to mica
mining in this country?
What are the human rights risks and the possible
impact on children in this context? (excluding the
western countries)
Are there reported children’s rights violations and/or
reports of child labour (excluding the western
countries)?
Are there initiatives in this country to stop child
labour (excluding the western countries)?
What did the UN Commiee on the Rights of the
Child report on this country?
Each country profile ends with a brief analysis of the
most important points revealed in the research, as well
an indication of red flags and outstanding questions.
The red flags identified in the country profiles served as
a basis for the selection of risk indicators for possible
children's rights violations. The country profiles can be
found in a separate Annex to this report.
Following the collection of the country data, similari-
ties between some of the countries became apparent.
For example, mica export figures exceeded production
figures in certain countries. This situation, namely
when a country exports more mica than it officially
produces, indicates not only that the government does
not account for a significant portion of the mica mined,
but that it is mined illegally and sold on the black market.
The five risk categories included in this investigation
are those countries ‘guilty’ of child labour in mica
mining; those countries ‘suspected’ of child labour in
mica mining; those countries ‘suspected' of illegal mica
mining; those countries that mine substantial amounts
of sheet mica; and those countries that import large
amounts of mica mined with child labour (which
means that they are using mica from countries ‘guilty’
of using child labour).
Each mica-producing country is subsequently scored
based on these categories.The analysis found in
SELECTION OF THE 20 MAJOR MICA-PRODUCING COUNTRIES
Non-western countries (15) Argentina, Brazil, China, India (other regions), Iran, Madagascar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Russia,
South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Taiwan.
Western countries (5) Canada, Finland, France, Spain and the United States.
20 GLOBAL MICA MINING 21
Chapter 10 explains which countries have high or
moderate risk with respect to sourcing mica.
At the outset of this research, it was not assumed that
other mica-mining countries would necessarily face the
same or similar issues as those uncovered in India. It is
thus important to note that the negative impacts of
mining in general, including mica mining, are broader
than child labour. Although research on mining and
children has tended to focus solely on the aspect of
child labour, mining impacts children in many other
ways. Children living in the proximity of polluting
mines may be affected by contaminated water, soil, air
and other environmental degradations and dangers. Or
they may face displacement, increased migration,
exposure to conflict, and lack of access to schools. In the
case of illegal mining, the possible impact on children’s
rights increases exponentially. See Chapter 8 for a
mining risk analysis for children, focused on mica.
2.3.2. ANALYSING THE GLOBAL MICA MARKET
In addition to desk research, a commercial market
research report was used to help define and analyse the
global mica market. SOMO made use of two Transpar-
ency Market Research (TMR) reports including Mica
Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth,
Trends, and Forecast 2016-2024 and Mica Market:
Global Production and Import-Export Analysis 2015.9
The TMR reports provided an overview of the market
for mica, both in sheet form (predominantly used in
the electric and electronics industries), and in scrap
form (used to make mica flakes and mica powder for
the pigment sector, for paints and coatings as well as for
construction, plastic, rubber, and cosmetics). The TMR
report also divides the market into two main categories:
natural mica and synthetic mica. The first TMR report
estimates future demand and growth for the mica
industry given current demand, while the second
report identifies current supplies of mica based on
production and trade figures. For more information,
see Chapter 3.
While the TMR reports provide information on
estimated demand for and supply of mica, they should
also be considered as one perspective and not necessar-
ily the definitive market analysis for the mica industry.
This report will also describe the inherent contradictions
that SOMO found in the TMR report, and question
some of TMR’s findings.
2.3.3. ANALYSING THE DEMAND FOR MICA BY
DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES
Mica would receive greater financial and market
interest if it was a traded commodity like gold, copper
or tin. Unlike other minerals and commodities, there
are virtually no global market overviews or analytical
oversights of mica supply and demand, nor of which
products and countries use mica across industries, or
even where it is deemed essential.
This research does not aim to give a comprehensive
overview of all of the industries or sectors that use mica
in their products. However, in order to understand the
market forces that drive the supply of mica, an under-
standing of the dynamics around the demand for mica
– and therefore those industries that use it – is imperative.
Over the course of this research it became increasingly
apparent that industries other than paint and cosmetics
– and specifically the electronics and automotive
industries – are also significant users of mica. Since
there is very lile information available about how
these industries or sectors use mica, or what specific
grades of mica they use, or where mica can be found in
their products, or where the mica they use originates, it
was decided to extend the research question to include
the electronics and automotive sectors.
Aer having conducted extensive desk research, SOMO
approached some of the major companies within these
industries directly: to validate and verify findings, as
well as to glean as much information as possible about
the use of mica in both of these sectors. This informa-
tion is presented in Chapters 5 and 6 of this report.
2.4. SOURCES OF INFORMATION
INDUSTRY SOURCES
Given the lack of available information about global
mica and the significant variations in datasets, SOMO
decided to conduct interviews with industry experts.
The goal was provide insight into mica markets, both
on the supply and demand sides, and to help validate or
9 These reports were made for SOMO and are not online available.
disprove data findings. SOMO held six interviews with
industry experts. These interviews were done on the
condition of anonymity, and with the agreement that
interviewees' input was off the record and would be
considered as background material. When information
derived from these interviews has been used in this
report, the footnote reference states that the informa-
tion is based on the expert interviews held in 2017 and
early 2018. Terre des Hommes has been informed about
the identity of the experts interviewed by SOMO.
Regarding the use of mica specifically by the electronics
and automotive industries, SOMO contacted
30 multinational companies individually, including
17 electronics companies and 13 automotive companies.
The companies were asked questions about where mica
is found in their products and in what quantities, as
well as the status of their risk-based human rights due
diligence processes. All of SOMO's discussions, inter-
views and surveys with industry representatives were
held off the record, and quotes have therefore not been
aributed directly to individuals or specific companies.
Finally, the aempt to ascertain how and in which
approximate quantities mica is used by electronic and
automotive companies met with some very clear
limitations. Firstly, the quality of information received
from the industries was extremely varied, ranging from
very specific (specifying components containing mica)
to very general (the provision of a supply chain policy
on minerals). Secondly, given that the companies in
both the electronics and automotive sectors are at the
preliminary stages of investigating the location of mica
in their manufacturing processes, products and
components, the lists of mica applications provided to
SOMO were in no way comprehensive or exhaustive.
SOMO also contacted the Responsible Mineral Initia-
tive (RMI, formerly the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initia-
tive) with a series of related questions. The RMI was
established by the Responsible Business Alliance
(formerly EICC, the Electronic Industry Citizenship
Coalition), which partners with the Automotive
Industry Action Group (AIAG).
In August 2017, RMI members formed an exploratory
workgroup focusing on mica. Upon receiving the SOMO
inquiry in October 2017, they decided to coordinate a
collective response on behalf of their members. Ten
companies responded directly to SOMO; many of them
also shared data with the RMI. Twenty companies did
not reply to SOMO; they either relayed their data
directly to the RMI or did not cooperate with the inquiry.
DATASETS USED
SOMO used four public datasets to conduct this
research, and one dataset included in the purchased
TMR report (as previously noted in section 2.3.2. of this
report). Datasets covering the same topic, for example
official mica production figures, were compared in
order to evaluate results. The datasets used in this inves-
tigation varied considerably, which exposed gaps in
knowledge and coverage about mica. The following
datasets were used over the course of this research.
USGS: The United States Geological Survey is consid-
ered an eminent authority on geological and related
scientific issues worldwide.10 One of its key functions is
to provide quality scientific information to the US
public through various means, including datasets.
Production figures for mica-producing countries were
analysed from the UGSG dataset. SOMO also contacted
the USGS mica expert, as well as various USGS country
experts, to obtain more information.
BGS: The British Geological Survey is also considered
an eminent authority on geological and natural
environmental research worldwide.11 Its focus is on
providing the UK public and government with objec-
tive and authoritative geoscientific data, information
and knowledge in order to help society manage its
natural resources sustainably, manage environmental
change and be resilient to environmental hazards.
Production figures for mica-producing countries were
analysed from a BGS dataset. SOMO also contacted the
BGS to further clarify certain findings in this research.
UN Comtrade: The United Nations collects national
trade statistics, including exports and imports, in a
dataset called UN Comtrade. Customs documents are
used to collect data on physical goods, and according to
the UN’s website,12 Comtrade is the world's most
comprehensive database on trade topics. SOMO
analysed Comtrade export and import trade figures in
10 USGS, https://www.usgs.gov
11 BGS, http://www.bgs.ac.uk
12 UN Comtrade, https://comtrade.un.org
22 GLOBAL MICA MINING 23
order to account for the export of mica from producing
countries, and the import of mica for those countries
buying mica from producing countries.
OEC: The Observatory of Economic Complexity is a
visualisation tool that helps to make UN Comtrade data
easier to comprehend.13 The OEC dataset has two
drawbacks: the data is dated, and it is processed through
a third party, which can result in errors.14 SOMO also
reached out to the OEC to verify findings.
TMR: Transparency Market Research provides cus-
tom-made market analysis. TMR provided SOMO with a
mica report, which was delivered in two parts, and
included data concerning both mica demand and mica
supply.
15
TMR used a wide variety of sources, including
the above-mentioned datasets and other geological
survey institutes, mining databases and market forecast-
ing tools to produce their results. SOMO also consulted
TMR about its sourcing in order to clarify their findings.
2.5. DISCLAIMER ON DATA, STATISTICS,
ESTIMATES AND FIGURES
The available data on all aspects of mica varied consid-
erably, and required rigorous scrutiny and questioning.
Ultimately, all of the data collected for this report
should be considered as estimates and indications. This
research has unequivocally demonstrated that there is
very lile reliable, quantifiable data available relating to
mica supply or demand.
Data on mica from UN Comtrade and the OEC, as well
as some of the TMR, UGSS and BGS data, has reportedly
come from statistics and reports produced by govern-
ments in the relevant mica-producing countries. In this
analysis, it became apparent that while some govern-
ments under-report official mica production, others
appear to either report the same figures each year or
report nothing at all.
Official UN Comtrade data is based on customs
documentation: physical goods that are documented
when exported from and/or imported into a country.
This data is not checked or validated before it is entered
into the UN Comtrade database.
Although the USGS and the BGS are considered
eminent authorities on global geology deposits and
mineral production, even their data must be taken with
caution for two reasons. Firstly, although the USGS and
BGS provided SOMO with some source details when
asked, the primary sources used by these eminent
geological authorities were not provided. Both insti-
tutes divulged that much of the data they provide is
based on a variety of sources, including their own
estimates, unnamed sources, government websites,
primary or secondary sources, unnamed publications,
and companies. Secondly, some of their data is based on
figures provided by the governments of mica-produc-
ing countries, which as previously stated may be
under-reported or not reported at all.
2.6. REVIEW PROCESS
The chapters of this report on the electronics and
automotive sectors, and the chapter on due diligence
efforts by companies in these industries, were sent to
the members of the Responsible Minerals Initiative
(RMI) active in the exploratory workgroup focusing on
mica. SOMO’s standard period for review is ten work-
ing days. As no individual companies are mentioned in
the report, SOMO did not send the report to individual
companies for review. All of the companies that
responded directly to SOMO are also member of the
RMI. SOMO received a coordinated feedback of the
RMI members on February 9, 2018.
2.7. STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT
This report has ten chapters and an extensive annex,
which includes profiles of mica-producing countries.
The first chapter of this report is an executive summary.
This second chapter is an introduction, and provides
background for the report, clarifies the methodology
used, and adds a disclaimer concerning the data and
other limitations to the findings. The third chapter
introduces basic facts about mica and gives an overview
of the global mica market. The fourth chapter outlines
the industries that use mica, and the fih and six
chapters include more detailed information about the
electronics and automotive industries. The mica due
diligence process is summarised in the seventh chapter,
whilst the eighth chapter is an analysis of the risks
associated with mica mining. The ninth chapter
provides an overview of global sheet mica deposits. An
overview of the mica-producing countries and the risks
associated with these countries is outlined in the tenth
chapter, and the final chapter of the report offers
conclusions and recommendations.
13 OEC, http://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/hs92/2525
14 A. Simoes, Founder OEC, OEC, email to R.Cowan at SOMO on 6 June 2017.
15 TMR, http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/about-us.html
24 GLOBAL MICA MINING 25
For the general population, mica is most commonly
associated with the sparkle found in cosmetics and
car paint, or with stoves panes. Most of us do not know
exactly what electrical, physical and chemical
properties make mica one of nature’s most useful and
widely used minerals across many sectors. is
chapter will introduce mica in more detail.
This chapter also provides some basic facts about the
global mica market. This information is needed in
order to understand the following chapters, as it
clarifies the terminology used in this report. This
chapter also introduces the different markets for
natural and synthetic mica, clarifies the differences
between the various grades of mica (sheet mica, ground
mica, built-up mica and so forth), and describes the
industries for which the specific grades are relevant. As
previously mentioned, in addition to desk research
SOMO used two commercial Transparency Market
Research (TMR) reports to help define and analyse the
global mica market.
3.1. WHAT IS MICA?
Mica is the name given to a group of minerals that are
physically and chemically similar. These minerals are
called 'sheet silicate' because they form in distinct
layers.16 Mica comes from the Latin word micare,17
which means to shine, flash or glier.18 The mica group
of minerals contains a total of 37 different types of
mica. The main types of mica are:
muscovite or white mica (potassium mica);
phlogopite or amber mica (magnesium mica);
biotite or black mica (ferro-magnesium mica);
andlepidolite (lithium mica).
Mica has a crystalline and layered structure, and due to
its hexagonal structure can be split into sheets as thin
as one micron. The spliing of mica does not compro-
mise its mechanical, physical or electrical properties.
Mica’s outstanding physical, chemical and electrical
properties mean that it is:
chemically inert, and does not react to water, acids, oil
or solvents;
16 Minerals Database, Mica, https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica/ (19 January 2018).
17 Latin Dictionary, http://www.latin-dictionary.net/search/latin/micare, (19 January 2017).
18 J.B. Hedrick, “Mica”, US Geological Survey, May 2008, http://on.doi.gov/1PzQQpF, (19 January 2017)
lightweight, flexible and strong;
able to resist extremely high temperatures or sudden
changes in temperature;
able to withstand high voltages and insulate with low
power loss;
and able to absorb or reflect light, which provides a
decorative effect and protects against ultraviolet (UV)
light.19
3.2. THE GLOBAL MICA MARKET
The global mica market can be divided into two main
categories: natural mica, which is found in nature and
mined from rock in the ground, and synthetic mica,
which is made in factories. An analysis of the size of the
global mica market, as seen in the TMR report, is based
on the actual (A) and forecast (F) demand for mica by
the end-user industries.
According to TMR, the total market value in 2015 of
mica, including both the natural and synthetic forms,
was almost half a billion dollars (US$ 478 million). This
figure is based on the total market volume that year,
which was 951,129 tonnes. Asia Pacific is the principal
region for the mica market, given that the majority of
mica processing companies are based in India and
China. China processes most of the world's mica, and
accounted for more than 45 per cent of the mica market
in 2015.
20
In 2015, according to TMR, the size of the global natural
mica market amounted to 846,505 tonnes, while the
market for synthetic mica totalled 104,624 tonnes. TMR
estimates that the market for natural mica will grow
2.5 per cent by volume each year between 2016 and
2024, based on the amount of mica demanded by
industries. The global market for synthetic mica is
expected to grow even faster, with an annual growth
rate of 3.9 per cent over the same period.21
In terms of revenue, TMR forecasts that the natural
mica segment will increase with an annual compound
growth rate of 3.6 per cent, and the synthetic segment at
the rate of 5.3 per cent.22
GROWTH EXPECTATIONS
GLOBAL MICA MARKET
Natural Mica Synthetic Mica
2015 (A): 846,505 Tons
CAGR: 2.5%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): 1,060,194 Tons
2015 (A): 104,624 Tons
CAGR: 3.9%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): 148,119 Tons
2015 (A): US$ 428,9 Mn
CAGR: 3.6%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): US$ 591.2 Mn
2015 (A): US$ 49,2 Mn
CAGR: 5.3%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): US$ 78.1 Mn
3. BASIC FACTS
ABOUT MICA AND THE
GLOBAL MICA MARKET
19
Government of India, Ministry of Mines, Indian Bureau of Mines, “Indian Minerals Yearbook 2014 (Part III: Mineral Reviews), MICA”, December
2015, http://bit.ly/1QbmKDY; EEPC India, M.L. Rajgarhia, report “Indian mica industry, outlook and export prospects”, February 2011; Minerals
Zone, “Mica”, http://bit.ly/1l70cMB (accessed 7 August 2015); US Geological Survey (USGS), J.B. Hedrick, “Mica”, May 2008, http://on.doi.gov
/1PzQQpF; US Geological Survey (USGS), J.C. Willett, “Minerals Yearbook, mica”, January 2016, pages 110 and 111, http://on.doi.gov/1PiwO0D.
20 Transparency Market Research, “Mica market: Global Industry, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2016-2024”, August 2016. Hereafter
referred to as ‘TMR report, 2016’.
21 TMR report, 2016.
22 Prices considered for calculation of revenue are average regional prices obtained by TMR through primary quotes from numerous regional
suppliers, distributors, and direct selling regional producers, but also on manufacturers’ feedback.
Figure 2: Growth expectations
in the two main categories of mica
Source: TMR, 2016.
26 GLOBAL MICA MINING 27
That the global consumption of mica is steadily
growing and that prices are rising indicates a competi-
tive market. However, this report will demonstrate that
based on national export figures, mica prices vary
considerably between producing countries. According
to TMR, the top drivers of mica's market growth are
increasing demand within the electronics industry, and
the growth of the construction, paint and coatings
industries, particularly in Asia Pacific.
Figure 3 shows TMR's estimates that the global mica
market will grow to nearly US$ 700 million in 2024, up
from almost half a billion dollars in 2015. This growth
is based on rising demand and increasing prices.
The demand for natural mica currently far outweighs
the demand for synthetic mica. Natural mica accounted
for about 90 per cent of total market share in 2015,
while the remaining 10 per cent consisted of synthetic
mica.23 This means that end-user markets and the
industries that use mica are highly dependent upon
mica that is extracted by mining. TMR forecasts that in
2024, the market share split between natural mica (88
per cent) and synthetic mica (12 per cent) will not
change substantially. If the forecasts are accurate and
the status quo remains, synthetic mica will remain a
niche product and will not actually compete in the
same markets as natural mica.
3.2.1. NATURAL MICA
Natural mica is a silicate mineral that occurs in igneous
rock formed by magma or lava; sedimentary rock that
is built up in layers; and metamorphic rock trans-
formed by other types of rock. Mica’s supply chain
starts with the mining of mica ores.
Ordinary mica crystals as they come out of a mine are
in rough blocks or lumps of irregular shape, size and
thickness. They may have impurities and structural
imperfections. To transform from crude or raw form to
commercial quality, these blocks must go through a
process of cuing, inspection, sorting and processing.
There are 37 different types of natural mica. However
only muscovite and phlogopite have any real commer-
cial value and are used by industries. Muscovite, which
is light-coloured and can contain small amounts of
coloured impurities, or iron oxides, is by far the most
frequently mined type of mica.24 The extent of these
impurities strongly depends upon the origin of the
mica, including the mine and even the specific pit
within the mine.25 Muscovite has beer electrical
properties (it is able to withstand high voltages and
insulate with low power loss) than phlogopite, and the
pearlescent pigments used for cosmetics are generally
composed of muscovite mica.26 Phlogopite, the magne-
sium mica, can beer resist extremely high tempera-
tures, and is used in applications requiring a combination
of high heat stability and electrical properties.27
23 TMR report, 2016.
24 J.W. Schlanz and J.T. Tanner Jr., “Industrial minerals & rocks: commodities, markets, and uses; mica”, 2006, page 639.
25 European Coatings journal, 2003, www.european-coatings.com/content/download/.../1/.../45141.pdf
26 https://imageserv11.team-logic.com/mediaLibrary/110/Synthetic_Mica_Presentation.pdf
27 G.C. Hawley, ‘Industrial Minerals review 2014’, Mining Engineering, July 2015.
India is a key exporter of muscovite mica. According to
industry experts, India is unequivocally the most
important country supplying natural mica, and this is
widely acknowledged in the market. Some of the expert
interviews confirmed that many companies consider
that India has by far the best quality, largest volumes
and lowest prices for ground mica. According to
industry experts, other countries – especially those with
the same or similar quality of mica as India's – would
need to drastically scale up their mica mining capacities
in order to bypass India as suppliers for end-users.
There are different opinions about the real possibilities
for scaling up. Some experts said that scaling up would
be relatively easy and feasible within a few months,
while others indicated that it would take many years
and require significant investments given that other
mica-producing countries do not have the knowledge,
skills, infrastructure or equipment needed to surpass
India.
28
The industry experts consulted did however agree on
the fact that for many firms, bypassing India’s mica
production is only a theoretical option on the short
term. This is because companies that source large
amounts of mica are dependent on Indian exports, and
could not source at current levels without the country's
mica production.29
3.2.2. SYNTHETIC MICA
Synthetic mica is made artificially by heating certain raw
materials
30
in an electric resistance furnace and allowing
mica to crystallise from the melt during controlled slow
cooling.
31
This results in a fluorine-containing mica with
the characteristics of muscovite and phlogopite.
Synthetic mica has the same special characteristics as
natural mica. The temperature resistance of synthetic
mica is up to 1100 degrees Celsius, even higher than the
800 degree resistance of natural mica. Synthetic mica is
colourless.
The development and use of synthetic mica as a
replacement for natural mica could reduce reliance on
mica mining. Currently, the main industry using
synthetic mica is the cosmetics sector. According to the
cosmetics company Lush, synthetic mica is brighter
than natural mica and has a more uniform finish,
making it particularly suitable for makeup products.32
No human rights violations or environmental prob-
lems were found concerning the manufacture of
synthetic mica based on publicly available information
within the scope of this research. However, further
research could be done in order to beer understand
the manufacturing process and related issues.
28 Based on expert interviews in May 2017.
29 Based on expert interviews in May 2017.
30 One source indicates that this raw material includes Potassium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Fluorosilicate and/or Synthetic Fluorophlogopite,
https://imageserv11.team-logic.com/mediaLibrary/110/Synthetic_Mica_Presentation.pdf see also: Google patents, Method of making
synthetic mica, https://patents.google.com/patent/US3087785, (July 2017).
31 The free dictionary, http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/synthetic+mica, (July 2017).
32 Lush, “Synthetic Mica” https://uk.lush.com/ingredients/synthetic-mica (19 January 2018).
MARKET SIZE, INDICATIVE (US$ MN)
2015
478.1
2018
533.2
2021 2024
669.3
599.6
Figure 3: Indicative market size of mica
Source: TMR, 2016.
Photo source: Impact Colors Inc.
28 GLOBAL MICA MINING 29
Given that synthetic mica is made in a laboratory or
factory, there is virtually no risk that children are
involved in the manufacturing process. Some industry
experts suggested that certain buyers would rather pay a
premium for synthetic mica, given that it is definitely
not mined by children. This is a unique selling point,
and justifies the higher price of synthetic mica.33
According to industry experts, choosing synthetic over
natural mica depends on the innovation process and
the design of the end product, as well as how closely
synthetic mica can be matched to natural mica. Other
considerations in choosing synthetic mica include
quality and price.
Some industry experts suggest that the price of synthet-
ic mica will fall as production volumes grow.34 However,
the TMR report concludes that the synthetic mica
market does not show signs of rapid growth and that it
will have increased its market share by only 2 per cent
by 2024. This means that synthetic mica will reach an
overall market share of 12 per cent over an eight-year
period, up from 10 per cent in 2015.35
Other industry experts claim that synthetic micas
market share could grow faster than TMR’s prediction.
Expanding the use of synthetic mica is highly depend-
ent on the development of new formulas for coatings
and paints that are specifically suited to synthetic mica.
At the moment it is not possible to simply substitute
synthetic mica for natural mica in an existing product
formula, such as for example a specific colour of paint.
According to one of the industry experts interviewed,
there are three general reasons that this substitution is
not currently possible.
The first reason is that the visual effect of natural mica is
different from that of synthetic mica. Manufacturers in
end markets must already make the choice for synthetic
mica in the design phase of any newly-developed
product. Formulas are apparently agreed on within
certain industries and then remain the same for many
years. For example, paints and coatings manufacturers
that make car maintenance products must follow the
original colour specifications as set by the car manufac-
turers, as the original paint and any repair paint must
be visually similar. In this case, according to industry
experts, car manufacturers would need to choose
synthetic mica at the design phase, and the coatings
industry would in turn have to choose synthetic mica
in order to comply with the visual specifications
dictated by the car manufacturer.
At the moment, industry experts state that there are no
commercial indications that car manufacturers are
prepared to convert to synthetic mica for their automo-
bile paints and coatings.
A second reason for not substituting synthetic mica for
natural mica, according to industry experts, concerns
33 Impact Colors Inc., ‘Synthetic Mica’, https://imageserv11.team-logic.com/mediaLibrary/110/Synthetic_Mica_Presentation.pdf; expert inter-
views May 2017.
34 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017.
35 TMR report 2016.
the reportedly superior quality of natural mica when
used in certain applications. Natural mica produces
complicated and brilliant visual effects that have yet to
be replicated in the laboratory. For example, paints and
coatings manufacturers speak of the multi-coloured
shine of a natural mica coating on cars, which changes
brilliance at different angles and on curved surfaces.
The third reason that synthetic mica is not frequently
substituted for natural mica is that it is currently much
more expensive than natural mica. However, if the car
industry were to make the conversion, there would be
sizeable shi in market forces, and the market share of
synthetic mica would increase substantially.36
Currently, almost all synthetic mica production is for
the cosmetics industry. The volumes of mica used for
cosmetics are low, and the prices are much higher than
those of other end-users.37 An industry expert gave the
example that very lile mica is needed for small
cosmetics products like nail varnish and eye shadow,
but the prices paid by the cosmetics industry for both
natural and synthetic mica are the highest.
Desk research did not uncover the use of synthetic
mica by the electronics sector. This can be clarified by
the fact that the electronics industry uses natural mica
next to alternative materials, such as acrylate polymers,
cellulose acetate, ceramics, fibreglass, fish paper, nylon,
phenolics, polycarbonate, polyester, styrene, vinyl/PVC,
and vulcanised fibre.38
According to an industry expert, existing synthetic
mica production facilities are currently not producing
at full capacity,39 as the demand is still lower than the
available capacity. Synthetic mica is manufactured
primarily in China and Japan, although there are some
production facilities in Europe.40
3.2.3. SUBSTITUTES FOR MICA
Next to natural and synthetic mica, some pearlescent
pigment producers are using other ‘substrates’ as a
basic ingredient, and sometimes as a significant
portion of total additives.41 According to the European
Coatings Journal in 2003, 98 per cent of the world
market for pearlescent pigments was based on natural
muscovite mica at that time. However, a high commer-
cial acceptance for new substrates like glass, SiO2
(silicon dioxide) and α-Al2O3 (aluminium oxide) flakes
was mentioned, as these flakes “show lower optical
absorption, and additional advantages like special
colour effects”.42
In some sectors and products, the trend has been
towards a greater use of non-mica-based substrates and
this tendency will presumably continue. Currently
however, natural mica is still the dominant ingredient
used by the pearlescent pigment industry, since
upwards of 80 per cent of its products are still based on
natural mica. Pearlescent pigments made with non-mi-
ca-based substrates are mainly produced for the
automotive sector.43
Information regarding the possibilities for using mica
substitutes within the electronics sector is conflicting.
Although one source indicated that there are plenty of
examples of substitution, other sources claimed that mica
is not easily replaced, particularly in the electronics
sector.
According to TMR market analysts, it is possible to use a
wide range of substitutes for mica in electronics and
insulation applications, including acrylate polymers,
cellulose acetate, fibreglass, fish paper, nylon, phenolics,
polycarbonate, polyester, styrene, vinyl/PVC, and
vulcanised fibre.44
However, the scientists and technical journals surveyed
for this report practically eulogise the merits of mica
for electrical and electronics systems.
The technical magazine Polymers highlights the impor-
tance of sheet mica as blocks or spliings for the
electronics industry. A spokesperson stressed that when
36 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017
37 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017.
38 TMR report 2016, page 36.
39 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017.
40 TMR report 2016, page 55.
41 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017.
42 European Coatings journal, 2003, www.european-coatings.com/content/download/.../1/.../45141.pdf
43 Based on the expert interviews in May 2017.
44 TMR report 2016, page 36.
45
“Mica/Epoxy-Composites in the Electrical Industry: Applications, Composites for Insulation, and Investigations on Failure Mechanisms for
Prospective optimizations”, Polymers 2016, 8, 201; doi:10.3390/polym8050201, www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/8/5/201/pdf, (July 2017).
Figure 4: Source: TMR, 2016.
ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL
MICA MARKET VALUE SHARE BY
FORM, 2016 AND 2024
2016E
US$ 494.4 Mn US$ 669.3 Mn
90%
10%
88%
12%
2024F
Natural Mica Synthetic Mica
30 GLOBAL MICA MINING 31
spliings are used for the production of so-called
'built-up' mica, which is mainly used in the electrical
and electronics sectors, the strength of the mineral's
special properties is such “that it cannot be replaced by
other materials”.45
This was confirmed by Jason Cole at the University of
Waterloo in Canada. “When it comes to modern
technology, sheet muscovite is an indispensable
resource. It is used in almost every electronic device
sold today as an insulator. Its high resistance to the
passage of electricity and heat are so great that no
substitute, artificial or natural, has proved to be eco-
nomically suitable to replace it. No other mineral has
beer cleavage, flexibility or elasticity. […] Sheet mica is
just as important to the electrical and electronic
industries as copper wire, and now ranks as one of the
essential minerals of modern life.46
3.3. MICA BY GRADE
There are a variety of terms related to the form or 'grade'
of mica. Each grade is identified by a specific industry
code that is used in import and export statistics. The
appendix to this report displays all of the classification
codes for mica in its basic forms, excluding mica
manufactured in semi-finished products.47 Mica in
crude form, including sheet and scrap mica, falls under
industry HS Codes starting with the numbers 2525.
These codes have been used for the retrieval of produc-
tion, export and import data.
The TMR market report divides the global market into
three different grades: ground mica, sheet mica and
built-up mica. The main terms used in this report, for
clarity and consistency, are crude mica, sheet mica, and
scrap mica. The terms used in this report and how they
relate to each other are visualised in the flowchart in
Figure 5 (also see page 18 following the glossary). All
mica definitions can also be found in the glossary.
Basically, crude mica ends up in two main categories:
sheet mica and scrap mica. Scrap mica is the basis for
mica flakes, mica powder and mica paper, which can be
used across many different industries. Sheet mica is the
basis for mica used in the electrical and electronic
sectors including for capacitors (condensors), mica
spliings and fabricated mica.
46 J.Cole, “Mica” Wat on Earth, November 2001, https://uwaterloo.ca/wat-on-earth/news/mica (24 July 2017)
47 This concerns HS Code starting with 6814, which are the worked, articles of mica, including agglomerated or reconstituted mica; whether or
not on a support of paper, paperboard or other materials.
48 Website Gunpatroy Pvt. Ltd, http://www.grmica.com/About_Mica.php#aa
3.3.1. GROUND MICA
Ground mica is the collective term for mica flakes and
mica powder. Scrap mica is crushed or ground into
either mica flakes or mica powder. Mica paper is also
produced from mica scrap; aer being crushed, it is
pulped with various binders and pressed into paper-like
sheets.
49
According to patent information, mica powder
cannot be processed into paper because there is insuffi-
cient contact between the individual mica particles.
50
Mica flakes are sold in different sizes, indicated in
meshes.51 Fine, medium and coarse mica flakes can
measure between 4 and 30 meshes (this would be
between 0.185 and 0.0328 inches). A rotary hammer
crushing machine is used to prepare mica flakes.52
There are different techniques for making mica
powder. Size differences in mica powder are related to
the method of grinding: dry ground (APS 1.2 mm to 150
µm), wet ground (APS 90 to 45 µm) or micronised (APS
<53 µm).53
The corresponding HS industry codes for ground mica
are grouped under 252520:
HS CODE: 25252010 HS code for mica flakes, 2.20 mesh
HS CODE: 25252020 HS code for mica powder,
dry ground
HS CODE: 25252030
HS code for mica powder, micronised
HS CODE: 25252040
HS code for mica powder, wet ground
HS CODE: 25252050 HS code for mica powder, calcined
HS CODE: 25252090 HS code for other
According to TMR, ground mica is the dominant
segment of the key mica grades utilised, amounting to
53 per cent of the global market in 2015 (see Figure 6).
TMR states that ground mica is used in industries
including paints and coatings, construction, plastic,
rubber, and cosmetics. Given that all of these industries
are growing globally, it is anticipated that the ground
mica segment will expand at a compound annual
growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8 per cent in terms of volume
and 4 per cent in terms of value.54
3.3.2. SHEET MICA
The second main grade is sheet mica. Sheet mica pieces
are graded into different standard sizes and commer-
cial qualities before they are offered on the market. The
quality of sheet mica is determined by visual assess-
ment and judgement. In this system of quality evalua-
tion, emphasis is put on clarity, colour, flatness, hard-
ness and freedom from spots, stains, air bubbles, visible
inclusions and structural imperfections.55 The grading
of mica sheet size is calculated based on the maximum
usable rectangular area yielded by a piece of sheet mica.
Mica spliings may be layered with other products and
glued together to become laminate products. This is
called built-up mica, or micanite.56
Sheet mica can be cut, stamped, punched, and convert-
ed into different shapes and sizes. For some electrical
applications of mica, it is cut and punched with a
simple machine according to required specifications.
This is called fabricated mica.
Sheet mica is the preferred grade of mica for the
electronics industry. Fabricated mica, built-up mica and
mica capacitors are all used in the electronics sector,
although these industries also use mica paper products
made from scrap mica.
The corresponding HS industry codes for mica ried
into sheets or spliings are grouped under 252510:
HS CODE: 25251010 HS code for mica blocks
HS CODE: 25251020 HS code for condenser films
trimmed but not cut to shape
HS CODE: 25251030 HS code for mica spliings,
book form
HS CODE: 25251040 HS code for mica spliings, loose
HS CODE: 25251090 HS code for other
According to TMR, during the forecast period (2016-
2024) the sheet mica segment is likely to expand at a
CAGR of 2.6 per cent in terms of volume and 3.8 per
cent in terms of value.57 The increased usage of mica in
49 SOMO/Terre des Hommes, “Beauty and a Beast”, May 2016.
50
It is needed that the particle size of mica is reduced not by grinding
but by treating in such a way that the mica is essentially delaminated,
i.e. split into platelets along the cleavage planes (in essence flakes). It
is only these platelets which can be used for making mica paper. U.S.
Pat. No. 2,614,055, https://www.google.ch/patents/US4180434
51 Mesh size is the mesh number (a US measurement standard) and
its relationship to the size of the openings in the mesh and thus
the size of particles that can pass through these openings. Higher
mesh numbers = finer particle sizes.
52 Prakash Mica Experts, http://www.pmegroup.net/pme/mi-
ca-flakes.html, (July 2017).
53 National Geoscience Database Of Iran, http://ngdir.ir/Minemineral/
MineMineralChapterDetail.asp?PID=3277, (July 2017).
54 TMR, 2016.
55 Gunpatroy, “About Mica”, http://www.grmica.com/About_Mica.
php#aa (20 January 2018).
56 Micamafco, “Grades of Mica Sheets,” http://www.micaworld.in/
micanite.html (20 January 2018).
57 TMR, 2016.
Crude mica
Mica blocks
Mica splittings
Built up mica
Sheet mica products Fabricated mica
Mica Scrap
Mica powder
Micapaper products
Condensor akes Fabricated paper
Sheet mica
THE FLOWCHART SHOWS THE MOST IMPORTANT TERMS EXPLAINED IN THE GLOSSARY.
Figure 5: Flowchart of mica production
Source: Gunpatroy Pvt. Ltd,48 adapted by SOMO.
32 GLOBAL MICA MINING 33
the electronics industry and the rising demand for elec-
tronic equipment are expected to boost the demand for
mica in the Asia Pacific region.58
3.3.3. BUILT-UP MICA
Built-up mica is manufactured from mica spliings
and is therefore in fact a subcategory of sheet mica;
TMR however considers it as a separate grade. To make
built-up mica, spliings are arranged to overlap in
layers of uniform thickness and then cemented with
shellac, epoxy, alkyd or silicone and bonded by heat and
pressure. The cemented spliings are then bonded to
fibreglass cloth, silk, linen, muslin, plastic or another
material to form a composite sheet.59 Variations can be
made in the manufacturing method, the types of mica,
and the type or quantity of bonding material used in
order to form thick, thin, stiff or flexible products.
Built-up mica is primarily used as insulation material
in electrical equipment. The built-up mica segment is
expected to expand at a CAGR of 1.9 per cent between
2016 and 2024 in terms of volume, and 3.1 per cent in
terms of value.60
3.3.4. GLOBAL MARKET VALUE OF MICA BY GRADE
According to TMR, ground mica is the most used grade
of mica and shows the largest annual growth both in
terms of tonnes and value. This growth is due to the
increasing use of ground mica in the construction,
paints and coatings, plastic, rubber and cosmetics
industries.61
According to TMR, ground mica, which includes mica
flakes and mica powder, accounted for a 53 per cent
share of the global mica market in 2015 in terms of
market value. Sheet mica and built-up mica together
accounted for 47 per cent, according to TMR. These
grades are used mainly by the electronics sector and by
the automotive industry.
3.4. MICA MINING METHODS
This section describes the methods for mining the two
main grades of mica: sheet mica and scrap mica. The
reason for describing these methods is to ascertain risk
levels related to the mining of these different mica
58 TMR, 2016.
59 National Geoscience Database of Iran,”Mica” http://ngdir.ir/Minemineral/MineMineralChapterDetail.asp?PID=3277 (20 January 2018).
60 TMR, 2016.
61 TMR, 2016.
62 ScienceViews.com, http://scienceviews.com/geology/mica.html, (July 2017).
63 Minerals Database, Mica, https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica
64 Spiegel Online, http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/indien-wie-kinder-in-den-glimmer-minen-von-jharkhand-ausgebeutet-werden-a-1149309.
html (July, 2017).
grades. Since certain industries use only one grade of
mica, it is important and relevant to understand these
different methods in order draw links between mining
methods and industries, and to exclude certain indus-
tries from particular mica mining methods.
3.4.1. MINING OF SHEET MICA
Sheet muscovite is obtained from coarse-grained
igneous rocks called pegmatites. Pegmatites also
contain feldspar, quartz, and various accessory miner-
als.62 Sheet mica can be recovered by both deep sha
mining and open-pit surface mining, but the laer is
only possible in the case of semi-hard pegmatite ore.
It is typical in sheet mining that when a pocket of mica
is found in a pegmatite, extreme care is exercised in its
removal in order to minimise damage to the crystals
and to keep the sheets intact. If small explosives and
drilling are used, care must be taken to avoid penetrat-
ing the mica pocket. The charge needs to be just
sufficient to shake the mica free from the host rock.
Next, the mica is hand-picked and placed in boxes or
bags for transport to the location where it will be
graded, split and cut to various specified sizes for sale.63
This process of assessing, grading, spliing, cuing and
trimming is done by hand. This means that sheet
mining is always a labour-intensive process, and there-
fore not considered economical in countries where
labour costs are higher than the relative value of the
mica. This is particularly true when other countries with
good sheet mica deposits have much lower labour costs.
GLOBAL MICA MARKET
Sheet MicaGround Mica Built-up Mica
2015 (A): 332,895 Tons
CAGR: 2.6%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): 423,250Tons
2015 (A): 504,098 Tons
CAGR: 2.8%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): 648,717 Tons
2015 (A): 114,135 Tons
CAGR: 1.9%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): 136,346 Tons
2015 (A): US$ 167,3 Mn
CAGR: 3.8%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): US$ 234.5 Mn
2015 (A): US$ 251.4 Mn
CAGR:4,0%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): US$ 359.3 Mn
2015 (A): US$ 57,4 Mn
CAGR: 3.1%
(2016 - 2024)
2024 (F): US$ 75.5 Mn
Figure 6: Global market value of mica by grade
Source: TMR, 2016.
Source: TMR, 2016.
FIGURE 7: GLOBAL MARKET
VALUE OF MICA BY GRADE IN
2016 AND 2024
2016E
US$ 494.4 Mn US$ 669.3 Mn
53%
12%
54%
11%
2024F
Sheet MicaGround Mica Built-up Mica
35% 35%
Using scissors to remove ragged edges and other
imperfections Source: photo still from Der Spiegel footage.
64
Pry bar and crack hammer, the most
essential tools for sheet mining.67
34 GLOBAL MICA MINING 35
Sheet mica is considerably less abundant than flake or
scrap mica. The costs involved in locating the vein, and
the unpredictable quality and quantity of the mica once
the vein has been located and worked, make it an
economically risky mining procedure.65 Therefore,
although the United States has sheet mica resources, the
country imports most of its sheet mica,66 and sheet
mica production there has declined to almost nil due to
the high costs of mining and labour.
3.4.2. MINING OF SCRAP MICA
Scrap mica is produced either in the course of mining
sheet mica, or is recovered as a by-product or co-prod-
uct from the mining of other naturally occurring
minerals including feldspar, quartz and kaolin (a
clay-like material).
In the first case, scrap mica is basically a by-product of
the sheet mica mining. The waste (the scrap mica), as
part of the process of sheet mining, results as scrap
mica to crude of approximately 60 to 90 percent.68
Another source gives a far lower percentage, indicating
that a good quality mica deposit may result in 10 per
cent commercially useful mica sheets while the rest can
be sold as scrap mica. When the quality of a mica
deposit is low, the total output from a mine may be sold
as scrap mica. 69
India has vast resources and deposits of sheet mica (also
see Chapter 9). Therefore, practically all of the country's
scrap mica is derived from its sheet mica production.
The best quality of scrap mica is considered
to be the
by-product of sheet mining. Although the US has sheet
mica resources, the majority of scrap mica produced in
the US is recovered as a by-product or co-product of
domestic feldspar and kaolin beneficiations obtained
from open quarries as well as from other micaceous
rocks. This quality of this scrap mica is considered to be
far inferior to the Indian grade and quality, and is only
suitable for use as a raw material by the ground mica
industry.70
Scrap mica that is a by-product of sheet mining is said
to possess the essential quality for use in reconstituted
mica paper, mica flakes and powder for the pearlescent
pigment and cosmetic industries.71 In particular,
‘factory’ scrap is considered to be the highest grade and
quality of scrap mica, and is favoured for the manufac-
turing of mica paper. This type of scrap is obtained
during the course of trimming and fabricating sheet
mica in the factory with sharp knives, and is also
recovered during the cuing and stamping of sheet
mica into pieces of specific sizes and shapes.72
The recovery of scrap mica as a by-product or co-prod-
uct from the mining of feldspar, quartz and kaolin
mainly happens through conventional open-pit
methods. Bulldozers, shovels, scrapers and front-end
loaders are used for the mining of so residual material.
The hard rock mining of mica-bearing ore requires
drilling and blasting. Aer blasting, the ore is reduced in
size with drop balls, and loaded with shovels onto trucks
for transport to the processing plant. This is where the
mica, quartz and feldspar are ultimately extracted.
73
65 Minerals Education, “Mica” https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica/ (20 January 2018).
66 ScienceViews.com , http://scienceviews.com/geology/mica.html
67
Source photo of pry bar and crack hammer http://www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com/jhbnyc/articles/tools.htm. The photo of deep mining shaft is a still from
the footage of Der Spiegel, http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/indien-wie-kinder-in-den-glimmer-minen-von-jharkhand-ausgebeutet-werden-a-1149309.html
68 MiningLink, Mica, http://mininglink.com.au/natural-resource/mica.
69 ISSUU, Mica sheets used in numerous industries for high performance thermal and electrical insulation, May 8, 2017, https://issuu.com/ax-
immica4/docs/mica_sheets_used_in_numerous_indust
70 Mica Manufacturing Co, http://www.micamafco.com/processed1d9db.html?nm=processed , (July 2017).
71 Mica Manufacturing Co, http://www.micamafco.com/processed1d9db.html?nm=processed, (July 2017).
72 Mica Manufacturing Co, http://www.micamafco.com/processed1d9db.html?nm=processed, (July 2017).
73 Mica Manufacturing Co, https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica/, (July 2017).
36 GLOBAL MICA MINING
This chapter will give more insight into the widely
different uses of mica. Mica’s exceptional physical,
chemical and electrical qualities allow it to be used in
many applications, and across many consumer, manu-
facturing and industrial sectors.
In SOMO and Terre de Homme’s 2016 mica report
entitled Beau and a Beast: Child labour in India for
sparkling cars and cosmetics, there was a strong focus on
the use of mica in pearlescent pigments, which are
subsequently added to paints, coatings, cosmetics, plastics
and ink. This was because pearlescent pigment producers
source the majority (60 per cent) of the mica production
in the Indian regions of Jharkhand and Bihar.
This chapter elaborates on the global market shares of
mica based on its value by different industries.
The data on the global mica market in this chapter is
based on the TMR report. While the report provides
information on actual demand (2015A) and forecasted
demand of mica (2024F), it should be considered as one
perspective and not necessarily the definitive market
analysis for the mica industry.
4.1. END-USERS IN THE GLOBAL MICA
MARKET
The TMR report divides the end-users in the global
mica market into four main sectors, and has a category
for unspecified other sectors. The sectors are: paints
and coatings, electronics, construction and cosmetics.
This division is arbitrary, in SOMO’s opinion, since the
automotive sector could arguably stand alone as a
sector. However, the automotive sector is also compli-
cated; it covers all end-uses as mica can be found in
various components of cars including paints and
coatings, electrical and electronics applications, and
filler and insulation applications.
Although TMR does not provide a definition of the
electronics sector in their report, it is clear that they
consider the electronics and electrical industries as one
sector, which they generally refer to as the electronics
industry.
In line with the TMR report, SOMO also refers to the
electronics industry in a broad sense in this report. The
term includes the production of electronic products,
e.g. for consumers, and for different industries, as well
as electrical products.. Industrial electronics includes
4. MICA AND THE
INDUSTRIES THAT USE IT
components or products for the automotive, aerospace,
telecommunications, medical equipment, defence and
other industries. Consumer electronics include
products such as computers, televisions and household
electronics.
74
Currently, the electronics, which uses both sheet and
scrap mica as this report will demonstrate, dominates
the global mica market.75 According to TMR, this
industry accounted for a 26 per cent share of the mica
market in terms of value in 2015, making it the main
buyer of mica worldwide. It is closely followed by the
paints and coatings industry. According to TMR, it is
expected that the electronics sector will continue to
dominate the market with at least a 27 per cent market
share of mica in 2024.76
The paints and coatings sector is the second largest
buyer of mica worldwide, accounting for a market share
of 24 per cent. The main grade for this industry is mica
flakes, followed by mica powder. This sector is expected
to grow to reach a 26 per cent market share of the
global mica market in 2024.
The construction sector, which uses mainly ground
mica, is the world's third largest buyer of mica, accord-
ing to TMR. It has a 20 per cent market share, which is
expected to remain almost the same in 2024 with a 19
per cent market share.
The cosmetics sector uses ground mica (mica flakes
and powder), and is the fourth largest buyer of mica
according to TMR. This sector accounted for 18 per cent
74 The coordinated feedback of the RMI on this chapter includes the observation that RMI member inquiries increasingly indicate that mica is far
more relevant to large form factor electronics (such as industrial equipment and white goods), and far less relevant for smaller, miniaturised
consumer electronics. (Feedback RMI by email, 9 February 2018).
75 TMR, 2016.
76 Please note that the 27% market share represents the value of the mica and not the volume.
Source: TMR, 2016.
FIGURE 8: GLOBAL MICA MARKET,
VALUE SHARE BY END-USER,
2015 AND 2024
2015A
US$ 494.4 Mn US$ 669.3 Mn
12%
2024F
18% 17%
20%
26% 27%
24% 26%
19%
11%
Electronics
Others
Paints & Coatings
Cosmetics
Construction
4.5%
3.5%
2.5%
1.5%
0.5%
4.0%
3.0%
2.0%
1.0%
0.0%
3.002.001.00 2.501.500.500.00
3.6%
3.2%
1.8%
1.9%
1.4%
Paints & Coatings
Cosmetics
Electronics
Construction
Others
CAGR Index
Market Share Index
FIGURE 9: MICA MARKET
ANNUAL GROWTH ANALYSIS BY END-USER
Source: TMR, 2016.
38 GLOBAL MICA MINING 39
of the market share in 2015, and is expected to remain
around the same, at 17 percent, in 2024.
Demand for mica is expected to continue to grow in the
coming years. In particular, the demand for paints and
coatings, as well as by the electronics industry, will drive
the market. The demand for mica from the paints and
coatings industry is expected to have the highest
annual growth during the forecast period: a CAGR of
3.6 per cent between 2016 and 2024. Mica demand
from the electronics industry has the second highest
growth rate per year: a CAGR of 3.2 per cent between
2016 and 2024 (see Figure 9).
4.1.1. ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY
Mica is essential for the electronics industry due to its
physical, chemical and electrical qualities, as well as its
perfect cleavage, flexibility, elasticity, infusibility, low
thermal and electrical conductivity, and high dielectric
strength. Particularly for the purpose of electrical
insulation, mica exceeds all comparable materials due
to its extremely high temperature resistance and low
coefficient of thermal expansion.77 It has been said that
“mica is nature’s most perfect insulation.78 79
Mica is found in many everyday electrical and electron-
ic consumer items including toasters, hairdryers, LED
lights and other lighting equipment, acoustic guitars
and smoke detectors. It can also be found in more
complicated applications, such as automotive sensors
and lithium-ion baeries, as well as in highly precise
defence, aerospace, radio and medical applications (also
see Chapter 5).
Sheet mica is used in electrical condensers and capaci-
tors, as insulation sheets between commutator seg-
ments, or in heating elements.80 Sheets of mica of
specific thicknesses are also used in optical instru-
ments,81 and ground mica is used as a filler, absorbent,
and lubricant, as well as in various processed forms for
its insulating properties. The electronics sector also
uses mica that is ground and combined with other
binding products including silicone or resin. This is
used to make mica tape, mica paper (sometimes called
mica sheets, not to be confused with sheet mica), mica
tubes, and other flexible mica products used for
insulation.82 Muscovite mica is most frequently used
for constructing mica capacitors.83
4.1.2. PAINTS AND COATINGS INDUSTRY
Paints and coatings is the leading sector for pearlescent
pigments containing mica.84 Mica flakes are the
preferred grade of mica for pearlescent pigments.85 The
consumption of dry ground mica in paint is its second
largest use.86
Mica is also used as a pigment extender in the paints
and coatings industry. Mica extends the shelf life of
pigments, and also brightens their intensity. Mica
added to paint reinforces the film, improves the
flexibility, and lowers the internal stress caused by
various factors. It is employed in all kinds of paints
including anti-corrosive paints, fire-resistant paints,
and marine paints.87
77 Polymers, 2016, Mica/Epoxy-Composites in the Electrical Industry: Applications, Composites for Insulation, and Investigations on Failure
Mechanisms for Prospective Optimizations, www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/8/5/201/pdf : Rotter, H.-W. Glimmer & Glimmererzeugnisse: Eigen-
schaften, Entwicklungen, Anwendungen; Siemens Aktiengesellschaft: Berlin, Germany, 1985; ISBN: 3-8009-1451-4.
78 “What is mica?” Spruce Pine Mica, http://www.sprucepinemica.com/frequently-asked-questions.html (11 December 2017)
79 The RMI stresses the point that alternative materials are often used instead of mica in electronics. (Also see page 32 for a list of mica
alternatives.) According to the RMI, mica is not essential in the sense that it can be replaced by other materials. They also point out that their
preliminary research indicates that mica is not critical for modern (small) consumer electronics, but is rather more commonplace in larg-
er-sized older electronics. (Feedback RMI by email, dated 9 February 2018). The information SOMO found through desk research regarding
the possibilities for using mica substitutes within the electronics sector is conflicting; some sources indicate that there are plenty of examples
of substitution, while other sources claimed that mica is not easily replaced, particularly in the electronics sector (also see page 33, footnotes
45 and 46).
80 Britannica, “Mica Mineral,” https://www.britannica.com/science/mica (12 December 2017)
81 Britannica, “Mica Mineral,” https://www.britannica.com/science/mica (12 December 2017)
82 BCI Insulation, “Mica Products”, http://www.bci-insulation.com/BCI-Insulation-Mica (10 January 2018)
83 http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/capacitors/mica-capacitor.aspx (June, 2017)
84 TMR, 2016.
85 Based on expert interviews, May 2017.
86 Micamafco, http://www.micaworld.in/micapowderandflakes.html
87 TMR, 2016.
4.1.3. COSMETICS AND PERSONAL CARE INDUSTRY
The cosmetics and personal care industry uses pearles-
cent pigments based on muscovite mica flakes to make
beauty products look and feel more luxurious. Mica's
reflective and refractive properties make it an impor-
tant ingredient in blush, eye shadow, body and hair
glier, nail polish, and facial foundation.88 The crystal-
line elements give products ranging from bubble bath
to lipstick a sparkly appearance. To a lesser extent, mica
powder is used as filler in cosmetics and personal care
applications including shampoo, conditioners and
toothpaste, and it also brings a sparkle to these products.
4.1.4. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Mica is used as a joint filler in the construction of
gypsum plaster boards and more widely in the con-
struction industry for wall boards, cladding, joint
compounds and plasters.89 It also acts as a reinforcing
agent for cement joints, and prevents cracking. Ground
mica and mica powder are also used to protect wall
surfaces from absorbing moisture.90
4.1.5. OTHER INDUSTRIES
Oil well drilling (onshore and offshore): Mica is oen
used in oil well drilling fluids. Mica flakes are prefera-
bly used in water-based and oil-based drilling opera-
tions as an additive mud chemical to prevent the loss of
circulation and seepage. Mica is added in order to seal
off the lost circulation zones. The platy structure of
mica flakes facilitates the overlapping of particles to
form a layer or wall, and acts as a sealant to bridge the
openings.91
Plastics and printing ink manufacturers: As is the case
for paints, coatings and cosmetics, pearlescent pigments
are also oen used for plastics and printing ink. The
plastics industry also uses dry ground mica as an
extender and filler, especially for lightweight insulation
in automobile parts to suppress sound and vibration.
Mica is used as a reinforcing material in plastic automo-
bile fascia and fenders, providing improved mechanical
properties and increased strength, stiffness, and dimen-
sional stability. Mica-reinforced plastics also have high
heat dimensional stability, reduced warpage, and the best
surface properties of any filled plastic composite.
92
Rubber industry: The rubber industry uses ground
mica as inert filler and as a mold release compound in
the manufacture of molded rubber products, such as
tyres and roofing. The platy texture acts as an anti-block-
ing, anti-sticking agent.
93
The mica helps to release the
newly-made tyres out of their casing molding (like a
cake gets released from its cake pan when using flour)
e automotive sector: In addition to coatings for cars,
there are several mica applications in the automotive
sector including some rubber tyres, bitumen foils, brake
pads, clutches, and so forth.94 Muscovite powder is widely
used as filler in non-asbestos acoustic products for the
treatment of automobile underbodies and noise protection
systems due to its functional morphological and surface
characteristics.95 In addition to coatings, paints, and fillers,
cars also have many different electrical, electronic and
mechanical systems that contain mica, including capaci-
tors, commutators and insulators (also see Chapter 5).
88 Micamafco, http://www.micaworld.in/micapowderandflakes.html
89 MicaFort, “MicaFort Applications,” https://www.lkabminerals.com/en/products/building-construction/micafort-in-building-and-construction/
(22 January 2018).
90 TMR, 2016.
91 Micamafco, http://www.micamafco.com/drynet55bc.html?nm=dry
92 Micamafco, http://www.micaworld.in/micapowderandflakes.html
93 Micamafco, http://www.micaworld.in/micapowderandflakes.html
94 TMR, 2016.
95 Micamafco, http://www.micaworld.in/micapowderandflakes.html
40 GLOBAL MICA MINING 41
5.1. INTRODUCTION
Data shows that the electronics industry dominates the
global mica market; it is the main buyer of mica
worldwide. The demand for natural mica by the
electronics sector is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent
each year (see Chapter 4).
At the same time there is very lile knowledge about
how this industry uses mica, where mica can be found
in electronics products, and the origin of the mica used.
This chapter therefore focuses on the use of mica in
electrical and electronics applications (together termed
the electronics industry) while the following chapter
will focus on the automotive sector.
Scientific and commercial literature shows that the
properties of mica make it essential for the electronics
industry (also see Chapter 4). However, in discussions
with electronics industry players over the course of
SOMO’s previous mica investigation in 2016,96 some
electronics companies claimed to be only minor mica
users. For example, a consumer electronics company
stated that almost all of the mica found in its products
ends up in hairdryers and toasters.97 This shows that
awareness about the broad and extensive use of mica in
electronics and electrical devices was (and still is) very
low, even among industry and supply chain experts.
SOMO argues that TMR's assessment of the electronics
industry as the biggest global mica buyer, with an
estimated market share of 26 per cent in 2016, is still
underestimated. TMR estimates that in 2016, 35 per
cent of the value of the global mica market came from
sheet mica, while 12 per cent was from built-up mica
(see Figure 7). TMR considers built-up mica as a
separate category; SOMO however argues that since
built-up mica is made from sheet mica, this data should
be interpreted to mean that the overall value of the
sheet mica market is 47 per cent of the total mica
market. This signifies that the remaining 53 per cent of
the total value of the mica market comes from ground
mica.
Since TMR underestimates the value of the sheet mica
market (which is, as explained above, a combination of
sheet mica and built-up mica), it may have also under-
estimated the electronics sector’s demand for sheet
mica. TMR reports that sheet mica is not used by the
paints and coatings, cosmetics or construction sectors,
but by the electronics category as well as possibly the
'other' category. This implies that if the electronics
sector is the main buyer of sheet mica, their market
share is closer to 47 per cent. There is one factor that
can weaken TMRs assumption that basically all sheet
mica is used by the electronics sector, and that is the
identification of another sector that uses large amounts
of sheet mica.
Furthermore, TMR does not appear to include ground
mica as a grade used by the electronics or electrical
sectors. This report will demonstrate that ground mica
is also a significant ingredient, particularly for electri-
cal and electronic insulation. Since the electrical and
electronics industries also use ground mica, TMR's
assumptions relating to the electronic industry’s overall
demand for mica is also possibly underestimated.
5.1.1. INFORMATION PROVIDED
BY INDUSTRY SOURCES
Regarding the use of mica specifically by the electronics
industry, SOMO contacted 17 electronics companies
individually.98 The companies were asked questions
about where and how much mica is found in their
products, as well as about the status of their risk-based
human rights due diligence processes. SOMO also
contacted the Responsible Mineral Initiative (RMI),
established by the Responsible Business Alliance
5. MICA USED BY THE
ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY
96 For the report “Beauty and a Beast: Child labour in India for sparkling cars and cosmetics,” March 2016.
97 SOMO/Terre des Hommes, “Beauty and a Beast”, May 2016, page 53.
98 Brand companies as well as electronics manufacturing services companies (EMS).
(formerly EICC, the Electronic Industry Citizenship
Coalition), which partners with the Automotive
Industry Action Group (AIAG) with a series of related
questions.
The data shared by the RMI represents the aggregated
and anonymised results of research conducted by its
members on the applications of mica in electronics and
automotive products. As the data represent aggregated
survey results for individual companies and products,
it must be interpreted as examples of mica use. Thus it
cannot be assumed that mica is present in every
component listed for any product. The RMI also
emphasises that the shared data does not present a
complete, comprehensive picture of mica applications,
but rather that it is the result of initial investigations.99
The RMI shared that it understands that mica is
commonly used in electrical devices and is only
applied in very minor quantities in electronic devices,
and asked for a definition of the categories of electron-
ics. This chapter therefore tries to clarify some differ-
ences between electrical devices and electronics, and
will demonstrate that there is much overlap and
interdependence. As a result, since electrical and
electronic devices and processes are interlinked, there
is no reason for NGOs such as Terre des Hommes to
solely limit their engagement efforts to manufacturers
of electrical products. SOMO refers to the electronics
industry in a broad sense in this report: the term
includes the production of electronic products for
consumers and for different industries, as well as
electrical products. It should be kept in mind that
electronics systems also exist far beyond what is
considered the ‘electronics industry’; electronic
components are also widely used in a range of other
industries, including for example the automotive,
aerospace, defence and medical sectors.100
5.2. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES
'Electrical' and 'electronic' devices are terms and
concepts that warrant clarification given that they are
related. However, there are key differences. Both
electrical and electronic processes involve moving
electricity around a circuit to power systems, products
and machines. However the main difference between
electrical and electronic circuits is that electrical
circuits have no decision-making, or processing,
capability, whilst electronic circuits do.101
Electronic devices not only convert electrical energy
into light, heat or motion, but they also help transfer
information. It is typical for an electronic device to
have a printed circuit board, or PCB, which is its 'brain'.
This means that all electronic appliances contain a PCB
of some type: computers, printers, televisions, stereos,
musical instrument amplifiers and synthesisers, digital
clocks, microwave ovens and mobile phones, to name
just a few.
An example of a printed circuit board, or PCB, present
in all electronics.
PCBs are thin boards made from an insulating material
with a metal coated surface. Etches are made in the
metal with acid in order to create pathways for electrici-
ty to travel among the various electronic components,
which are surface-mounted on the board with solder.102
Examples of such components include transistors,
vacuum tubes (which are the active electronic compo-
nents), resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers
and diodes (i.e. passive electronic components). See
below for some examples of electronic components
mounted on PCBs.
99 Communications with the RMI, 17 December 2017.
100 The RMI states that referring to the ‘electronics industry’ overemphasises the use of mica by this industry and does not provide a clear under-
standing of the use of mica in other industries with electronics components products. (Feedback RMI by email, 9 February 2018).
101 Bright Knowledge website, “Electrical and electronic engineering: What’s the difference?“ https://www.brightknowledge.org/engineering/elec-
trical-and-electronic-engineering-what-s-the-difference (9 January 2018)
102 Sciencing, “What Are Printed Circuit Boards Used for?”, By Dan Keen, April 24, 2017 https://sciencing.com/printed-circuit-boards-
used-5031475.html.
42 GLOBAL MICA MINING 43
It is important to realise that the distinction between
electrical and electronic devices is blurry. Most modern
appliances use a combination of electronic and electrical
circuity, linked through transistors, or electronic switches.
This means that a small circuit, for example a PCB with
components including transistors, capacitors and resis-
tors, can be used to operate larger electrical equipment.
104
Moreover, traditional electrical devices are increasingly
equipped with electronics to make them 'smart'. An
example is the lighting industry; due to the trend
towards smart lighting, today almost all lighting prod-
ucts contain electronics. Also, the development of the
so-called ‘Internet of Things’ means that traditional
electrical home appliances are being embedded with
electronics, soware, sensors, actuators and network
connectivity. This enables these objects to connect and
exchange data. SOMO argues that electrical product
manufacturers and electronics manufacturers can no
longer be distinguished from each other, and must there-
fore be considered as belonging to the same industry.
5.3. WHERE IS MICA FOUND IN
ELECTRONICS?
5.3.1. MICA ON PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS
Capacitors, resistors and insulators are mounted on
printed circuit boards (PCBs), and any of these compo-
nents can contain mica. There are many examples of
mica capacitors105 mounted on printed circuit boards
for sale.106 The RMI member survey stressed that mica
is not consistently used in all versions of a component.
While mica may be used in some capacitors, many
capacitors used in electronics are plastic or ceramic
and may not contain mica.107
Some of the companies surveyed by SOMO also confirmed
that mica is found in their PCB components: “Based on
our research to date, we believe thatmicamay be present
in a handful of printed circuit board components (we have
found 13 parts that containmica0.03 grams or less).
108
103 Electronics and you, http://www.electronicsandyou.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Electronic-Components.jpg
104 Bright Knowledge website, “Electrical and electronic engineering: What’s the difference?“ https://www.brightknowledge.org/engineering/elec-
trical-and-electronic-engineering-what-s-the-difference (9 January 2018).
105
Thomasnet, “Testing PCB Components” https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/automation-electronics/testing-pcb-components/ (10 January 2018).
106 West Florida Components, https://www.westfloridacomponents.com/blog/mica-capacitors-use/ (10 December 2017).
107 RMI communications 17 December 2017.
Another company found 797 parts containing mica,
and the majority of these parts are capacitors, resistors
and insulators. Approximately 80 per cent of the parts
that this company identified as containing mica are
resistors. Although the company could not comment
on the volumes of the materials, they ascertained that
capacitors and resistors appear on virtually every
printed circuit board, and that every electronic device
contains a printed circuit board. This company has
realised that it has manufactured countless products
containing one of more of these components, and that
the products might be industrial, commercial or
consumer devices (e.g. network equipment or gaming
devices).109
5.3.2. MICA CAPACITORS
Capacitors (also called 'condensers') are one of the most
basic electronic components. They have many uses in
both electronic and electrical systems. They are so
ubiquitous that finding an electronic or electrical
product that does not include at least one capacitor for
some purpose is rare.110
The most fundamental electrical characteristic of a
capacitor is its capacitance, or the ability to store
electrical energy. Capacitors come in all shapes and
sizes, but they normally have the same basic compo-
nent, which includes two conductors (or plates) and an
insulator between the plates. This insulator is a
non-conducting substance, called a dielectric. A
dielectric is any material that has the ability to store
electrical energy. The amount of energy that can be
stored depends on the area, the dielectric constant, and
the thickness of the dielectric. Capacitance is a unit of
measure that describes the electrical storage capacity of
a capacitor.111 Dielectric strength is the maximum
electric field that a dielectric can withstand without
becoming a conductor.112 Some consider mica as
probably to be the best
dielectric material for this
purpose.
113 114
Mica capacitors are said to be the most stable, reliable
and high precision capacitors. They are also more expen-
sive, and used for applications where high accuracy and
low capacitance change over time is desired. Muscovite
mica is most frequently used for constructing mica
capacitors. Mica capacitors are said to be ideal for
applications such as high frequency and radio frequency
applications, coupling circuits, resonance circuits, radars
and lasers.
115
They are also used for military aerospace
electronics, in for example jet aircra and missiles,
116
as
well as for on board communication, aircra power
supplies and two-way mobile radios.
Mica capacitor.
Source: Technology UK. 117
Mica capacitorscan also be used in power conversion
circuits for low-capacitance snubber applications. These
capacitors are found in radio/TV transmiers, cable TV
amplifiers, avionics, and high-voltage inverter circuits.
118
Mica RF (radio frequency) capacitors, like the square
green ones below, are also used for signalling in
magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) machines.119 The
other mica capacitor is used for MRI coils and other
medical equipment.120
108 Industry expert communications on 15 December 2017.
109 Industry expert communications on 16 November 2017 and 6 December 2017.
110 A.Hambly, Facts101: Electrical Engineering, Principles and Applications, Cram101 Publishing, https://books.google.nl/books?id=Jykz4qAYgM-
8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false (14 December 2017).
111 Knowls Capacitors, “Capacitors for RF Applications” (14 December 2017).
112 S.Birdy, Capacitors, https://www.slideshare.net/stambirdy/capacitor?next_slideshow=1 (14 December 2017).
113 Iver P. Cooper, Grantville Gazette, Volume 9 , https://grantvillegazette.com/wp/article/the_sound_of_mica
114 The RMI adds that this is debatable and is rather a design decision based on tradeoffs of form factor and density for inferred performance/
strength. Feedback RMI by email, 9 February 19, 2018.
115 Physics and radio electronics, electronics devices and circuits, passive components, mica capacitor, http://www.physics-and-radio-electron-
ics.com/electronic-devices-and-circuits/passive-components/capacitors/micacapacitor.html, (June 2017).
116 Future Electronics, Mica capacitors, http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/capacitors/mica-capacitor.aspx (June, 2017).
117 Technology UK, “Capacitors” https://www.technologyuk.net/physics/electrical-principles/the-capacitor.shtml (14 December 2017).
118 Richardson RFPD, http://www.richardsonrfpd.com/Pages/Product-End-Category.aspx?productCategory=10116 (December 2017).
119 CDE Multilayer RF Capacitors, http://www.cde.com/resources/catalogs/MC.pdf (15 December 2017).
120 CDE MCM and MIN PTFE and Mica Capacitors https://eu.mouser.com/new/cde/CDE-MCM-MIN-caps/ (15 December 2017).
Examples of electronic components mounted on PCBs.103
RESISTORS
SEMICONDUCTORS TRANSFORMERS OTHERS
COILS
CAPACITORS
44 GLOBAL MICA MINING 45
Source: Mouser Electronics.
5.3.3. MICA IN SENSORS
Capacitive sensor technology also uses mica as a
dielectric material, meaning that sensors of various
kinds could also contain mica. Sensors are used to
monitor motors, generators, switchgears and trans-
formers,121 and are found in cars, routers and wireless
networks, and acoustic systems.
The accordion-like mica capacitors below122 are sensors
used to test motors and generators. The smooth
cylindrical capacitors are used for high-current and
high-voltage circuits designed for radio frequencies
ranging from 100kHz to 3 MHz.123 The third sensor,
which is map-like and mica-insulated, is used to
measure thermal conductivity.124
5.3.4. MICA AS PART OF SEMICONDUCTOR SYSTEMS
Mica can also be found as part of semiconductor
systems.125 Sheet mica in the form of a washer or disk is
one of the main materials used to mount and isolate
semiconductors.126 “In many situations, the case of the
semiconductor must be electrically isolated from its
mounting surface […] and mica has been widely used
in the past because if offers high breakdown voltage
and fairly low thermal resistance at low cost.127
In addition, a new scientific breakthrough reported by
the American Institute of Physics demonstrates that
mica’s chemical properties allow it to be used as an
agent to build semiconductor films.128 If this technique
is commercialised in the future, it could have an impact
on the demand for mica.
5.3.5. MICA IN LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES
High-voltage and lithium baeries can also use mica to
provide electrical isolation and insulation.129 A lithi-
um-ion baery (LIB) is a rechargeable baery and can
be used in various applications.
Source: VonRoll.130
121 Iris Power, “Epoxy Mica Capacitors (EMS Sensors) Partial Discharge Monitoring,” https://irispower.com/products/epoxy-mica-capaci-
tors-emc/ (12 December 2017).
122 Iris Power Epoxy Mica Capacitors, https://irispower.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Iris-Power-EMC-Brochure-1.pdf (14 December 2017)
123 CDE, Cylindrical Types, High-Voltage Mica Capacitors, http://www.cde.com/resources/catalogs/HVOLT-CYL.pdf (10 December 2017).
124 Hot Disk, Mica Sensors, https://www.hotdiskinstruments.com/products-services/sensors/mica-sensors/ (15 December 2017).
125 Micamafco, “Mica insulators for power transistors, diodes, rectifiers IC’s and other semiconductors”, http://www.micamafco.com/micainsula-
tors11c0b.html?nm=micainsulators (10 January 2018).
126 Altronic, “Mica Washers”, http://alutronic.com/products/insulation-and-heat-conduction/mica-washers (10 January 2018).
127 B.Roehr, “Mounting Considerations For Power Semiconductors,” On Semiconductor, May 2001, https://www.onsemi.com/pub/Collateral/
AN1040-D.PDF (10 January 2018).
128 A.Littlejohn, Y.Xiang, E.Rauch, T-M.Lu, G-C.Wang, “Van der Waals epitaxy of Ge films on mica”, Journal of Applied Physics 122, http://aip.
scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.5000502 (10 January 2018).
129 Vonroll,”Energy Storage Solutions Battery Protection,” http://www.vonroll.com/userfiles/downloads/1435128730441199/Energy_Storage_
Solutions_BatteryProtection_Flyer_web.pdf (12 December, 2017).
130 Von Roll, “Energy Storage Solutions: Battery Protection,” http://www.vonroll.com/userfiles/downloads/1435128730441199/Energy_Storage_
Solutions_BatteryProtection_Flyer_web.pd (12 December 2017).
131 A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display as on digital watches, portable computers, mobile phones and calculators.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/lcd .
132
Or, a variable frequency drive (VFD), a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage of its power supply.
It is not clear what is meant.
APPLICATION DESCRIPTION
Printed Circuit Boards (PCB / Linear / SMPS) Several of the electronic components on a PCB, including capacitors,
connectors, resistors and insulators, can contain mica.
Sensors E.g. sensors found in routers and wireless networks, and sensors for proximity
sensing and position sensing.
Semiconductor systems Sheet mica in the form of a washer or disk is one of the main materials used to
mount and isolate semiconductors.
Lithium-ion batteries / rechargeable batteries Mica laminates are used as spacers and for thermal and electrical insulation.
Mica is also used for the insulating composite tube.
Plastics for electronics For computer cases and screen frames (also called housing), and also in small
plastic components.
Sound systems E.g. speakers, ampliers, woofers.
Displays Mica is used as a ller for LCDs.131
Lighting systems E.g. lamps, LED. Mica discs and mica tape are used for insulation.
Paint E.g. pearlescent paint, with mica flakes as the basis.
AC/DC motors AC motors are powered by alternating current, while DC motors are powered by
direct current such as batteries.
Adaptors Adaptors and chargers to recharge batteries.
Card sockets To insert memory cards.
DRAM Dynamic random-access memory; this is a semiconductor memory to be
mounted on a PCB.
Encoder A circuit that changes a set of signals into a code; a small electronic component
on PCBs.
Hinges Hinges for panels and electronic enclosures.
Ignitions A switch to bring about ignition.
Keypads A set of buttons arranged in a block or 'pad', bearing digits, symbols or
alphabetical letters.
Power modules The physical containment for several power components.
Remote controller An electronic device used to operate another device wirelessly from a distance.
SSDs Solid-state drive, a storage device for persistent data on solid-state flash
memory. Alternative for a hard disk drive.
Thermostats/thermistors To read and report temperature changes.
Trays/drains Concerns uses for ground mica in a plastic form.
Tuners
A device for tuning, especially an electronic circuit or a device used to select signals
at a specic frequency for amplication and conversion to video, sound, or both.
Valve. A device that controls electric current between electrodes in an evacuated
container.
VFDs Vacuum fluorescent display, a display device commonly used on consumer
electronics equipment such as video cassette recorders, car radios and
microwave ovens.132
Wires/cables/harnesses Mica is used as an insulator in wires and cables, and harnesses.
Table 1: Applications of mica in electronics components Source: Compiled by SOMO.
46 GLOBAL MICA MINING 47
5.3.6. MICA IN PLASTICS FOR ELECTRONICS
Mica-filled polypropylenes (PP)133 also go by the catch
phrase of 'phantom plastics'. These are new kinds of plastics
that have been mixed with functional fillers like mica. This
gives them a much wider range of properties not normally
associated with plastics, such as high electrical conductivi-
ty and thermal conductivity. Mica is one of the most
common mineral fillers for polypropylene.134
One electronics company confirmed that they found a
plastic part in one type of component or accessory
containing two grams of mica.135 Plastics for computer
cases and frames (housing) can also contain mica.136
5.3.7. OVERVIEW OF MICA IN ELECTRONICS
COMPONENTS
The RMI member survey identified seven core func-
tionalities of mica across automotive and electronics
products including:
Appearance
Coating
Filler
Insulation
Friction
Electrical
Functional
Based on desk research, interviews, contacts with
companies and the RMI member survey, SOMO
compiled the following overview of mica applications
in electronics.
5.4 WHERE IS MICA FOUND IN ELECTRICAL
APPLICATIONS?
5.4.1. INSULATION
Mica, both in sheet and in processed form, is also used
in many electrical applications due to its insulating
properties. Mica is extremely stable when exposed to
moisture and extreme temperatures, while maintaining
superior electrical properties as an insulator. The
mechanical properties of mica also allow it to be cut,
punched, and stamped while maintaining high thermal
conductivity.137 Insulating film, paper, sheets, washers,
tubes and custom-fit pads that use mica, alone or mixed
with other materials including resin, can be found in
countless consumer goods and household items.
The flat mica heating pad with wires pictured below138
is an example of a custom-fied product used in
industrial mechanics. Processed mica paper is also
fied as an insulator to make products including
toasters, keles, room heaters and irons,139 pictured
below. The Swiss roll mica composite in the diagram
below is combined with polymers and used for insula-
tion for car parts including fan blades, dashboard
panels, plastic seats, ignition system parts, and air
conditioning heaters, among others.140
Mica that is ground and processed into paper and
sheets has the added advantage of being rigid, used in
heating elements for industrial and household appli-
ances, or flexible, used in hairdryers, space heaters,
circuit breakers and transformers.141 The mica paper
roll, tape and washers seen below can be cut and custom
fit into components used in electrical devices. They can
withstand temperatures upwards of 500 degrees Celsius.
133 Atoz Plastics, “Compounding of Polypropylene,” http://atozplastics.com/upload/literature/compounding_page4.asp (18 December 2017).
134 Phantom Plastics, “Functional Fillers,” http://phantomplastics.com/functional-fillers/ (18 December 2017).
135 Industry expert communications on 15 December 2017.
136 RMI communications 17 December 2017.
137 Aavid, “Mica Insulating Hardware,” https://www.aavid.com/product-group/interface/insulators/mica (14 December 2017).
138 RS Mica Heater, https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/mica-heating-pads/7904836/ (9 December 2017).
139 MicaMafco, Mica Heating Elements, http://www.micaworld.in/micaheatingelements.html (5 December 2017).
140 MicaMafco, Mica Heating Elements http://www.micaworld.in/micacomposite.html (17 December 2017).
141 CoGebi, Mica Sheets: Flexible, http://www.cogebi.com/mica-sheets (5 December 2018).
142 Polymers, 2016, Mica/Epoxy-Composites in the Electrical Industry: Applications, Composites for Insulation, and Investigations on Failure
Mechanisms for Prospective Optimizations, www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/8/5/201/pdf : Rotter, H.-W. Glimmer & Glimmererzeugnisse: Eigen-
schaften, Entwicklungen, Anwendungen; Siemens Aktiengesellschaft: Berlin, Germany, 1985; ISBN: 3-8009-1451-4.
APPLICATION / DEVICE EXAMPLE OF USAGE
Electrical devices Inductor of voltmeters, commutators, power inverters, high-voltage
commutators, rotating eld coils, high-voltage transformers, heat traps.
Radio receivers, TVs, radar Solid-state systems, condensers, tubes, microwave windows, transistor
shielding.
Electric light devices Arc lamps, huge incandescent lamps, bases for lampshades, neon lamps,
dimmer counters, turn signal systems.
Mixed electrical applications Fuse cover platelets, spark plugs for high compression engines, sealing shims,
insulators.
Electric household appliances Coffee machines, cigar lighters, hair rollers, irons, immersion heaters, permanent
wave devices, toasters, vibrators, space heaters, hairdryers, waffle irons.
Electrical monitoring systems Grid resistors, pyrometers, relays, electrical and thermal controllers.
Mechanical applications Dials, membranes for acoustic instruments, heart-lung machines, respirators,
gaskets for high temperature measurement instruments, lantern windows,
replaces, unbreakable safety goggles, quarter-wave plates for optical
instruments, vision panels in ovens, synthetic optical crystals.
Industrial electrical applications Corrugated rolls, glue pots, lead baths, devices for local warming, heating
elements, soldering irons, thermostats.
Table 2: Applications of mica in electrical devices
Source: Polymers, 2016.142
5.4.2. OVERVIEW OF MICA IN ELECTRICAL DEVICES
The technical magazine Polymers published a selection
of mica applications in the electrical sector in 2016,
which gives a general overview. This overview partly
overlaps with the overview of applications of mica in
electronics in Table 1.
Sources: RSOnline, MicaWorld.
Source: Cogebi.
48 GLOBAL MICA MINING 49
6.1. INTRODUCTION
It is well established that the automotive industry uses
scrap mica in flakes or powered form as a substance in
paint. This mica makes car surfaces glier and glow in
the sun, and even change colour depending on the
angle from which the car is viewed. Whilst investigat-
ing industries that use mica, evidence began to mount
that cars also have parts and systems that contain both
scrap and sheet mica in addition to the paint on the
car’s surface. This chapter, which is based on desk
research and discussions with experts from the auto-
motive industry, aempts to provide insight into the
automotive industry’s use of mica.
SOMO contacted 13 multinational automobile compa-
nies with questions about where mica might be found
in their products. One firm in particular was very
forthcoming, and provided most of the information
that has been used in this chapter.
6.2. CAR CASE EXAMPLE
One global automobile company told SOMO that it
could identify 15,000 different parts containing mica in
any one of its cars. This spokesperson told SOMO that
it was possible to determine the mica-containing parts
through a database search that allows the company to
identify the materials used in each of its car brands. It
was not necessarily possible however to determine the
volume of the material or where it originated. The car
expert explained: “The mica amount differs in quantity
and could be minimal in one part, while other parts
have more [since] mica appears to be a versatile
material.143 The industry expert also explained that the
results of the automobile materials database search did
not distinguish between the grade of mica – sheet or
scrap – used for the different parts.
The car company told SOMO that it could roughly
group the 15,000 mica-containing parts into the
following 15 clusters:
1. Paints
2. Coatings (including door handles, steering wheels
and car paint)
3. Pads (both brake pads and clutch pads)
4. Silencers (acoustic sound silencing)
5. Baeries (high-voltage and lithium)
6. Sinter additives (compound additives)
7. Sealer and sealing compounds (automatic gears in
the motor, cylinders)
8. Gaskets (used as sealers and/or insulators)
9. Compressors (to compress air and liquid,
including oil)
10. Epoxy powder (for housing, headrests, shock
absorbers)
11. Screws
12. LED lamps
13. Pumps
14. Electronic parts (commutators, used to start
motors)
15. Electronic parts (radar sensors to detect light, dark,
distance, proximity, temperature)
Despite the car expert's remark that the results of its
materials database search did not include a differentia-
tion between the types or grades of mica used across the
15 groups, it is clear that both grades of mica can be
found in cars. This can be deduced by the breadth of the
clusters: paints, coatings and fillers all use scrap mica,
for example, and commutators and sensors use sheet
mica.
The company that supplied this data was surprised that
mica was not found in the car tyres. Upon further
investigation, however, it was discovered that mica is
6. MICA USED BY THE
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
143 Industry expert communications on 12 December 2017 and 20 December 2017.
used in the manufacturing of the firms tyres, specifical-
ly as a lubricant to help the rubber tyre pop out of the
mold aer it has been formed.144
The use of mica in baeries, capacitors, LEDs, as
insulation and for acoustics is explained in Chapter 5
on electronics and electrical systems. Below, the role of
mica in a few technical, but very important, car parts
are explained.
Explanation for number 14 'commutators'
Mica is also used for starting car and truck engines (see
number 14 in the overview of the 15 clusters). Mica
pieces are bonded with an epoxy resin to form a mica
commutator sheet,145 which can then be used as an
insulator and/or a dielectric in commutators,146 the
mechanical devices that are used to start car and truck
motors.147
Explanation for number 15 'sensors'
Two of the most common automotive applications for
capacitance-based sensors that may use mica include
proximity sensing and position sensing (see number 15
in the overview of the 15 clusters). A proximity sensor
in a car is used to detect the presence of nearby objects
through the emission of an electromagnetic or electro-
static field. The sensor is able to detect any change in
the field or return signal. A position sensor in a car is
144 Company expert interview on 16 January 2018.
145 Pamica, Mica Commutator Sheet, http://www.pamica.com/mica-products/Mica-Sheet/Mica-Sheet.html (15 December 2017).
146 Toledo Commutator Company, Mica Molded Commutators, https://www.toledocommutator.com/mica-molded-commutators (15 December
2017).
147 Electrical Edition, “Cummutation in DC Machine or Commutation in DC Generating Motor, http://www.electricaledition.com/2016/01/commu-
tator-commutation-in-dc-machine.html (15 December 2017).
MICA APPLICATION IN AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR
Paints
Coatings (including
door handles, steering
wheels, car paint)
Pads (both brake pads
and clutch pads)
Batteries (high
voltage and lithium)
Sinter additives
(compound additives)
Sealer and sealing
compounds (automatic
gear in the motor, cylinder)
Gaskets (used
as a sealer and/or
insulator)
Compressors
(to compress air,
liquid including oil)
Epoxy Powder (for
housing, headrest,
shock absorber)
Screws
Commutators
(used to start
motors)
Sensors (radar sensors
detect light, dark, distance,
proximity, temperature)
LED lamps
Pumps
Source: Pamica.
50 GLOBAL MICA MINING 51
used to measure a variety of positions, including fluid
level, sha angle, gear positioning, digital codes and
counters, as well as touch screen coordinate systems.148
6.3. THE VOLUME OF MICA IN CARS
While data on percentages and volume of mica per
component are not available, the RMI relayed to SOMO
that its industry member survey confirmed that the
total volume of mica contained in an end product for
the automotive industry is less than 0.1 percent of the
product volume. 149
This report shows that mica found in cars is used in
components and parts that cross many different
automotive systems and processes. Uses for mica may
be electrical, electronic and mechanical, and it may also
function as a lubricant or filler.150 It is important to note
however that mica used as a filler or lubricant in certain
car parts might also be chosen for its chemical and
physical properties: including its ability to withstand
high temperatures, its elasticity and insolubility, and its
ability to prevent water from penetrating the car.
This report concludes that given the number of car
parts that can contain mica (15,000), the total use of
mica in one end product for the automotive industry –
a car – is substantial, despite the fact that it represents
less than 0.1 per cent of the total volume of the car. 2016
was a record-breaking year for global car sales, with a
reported 88 million new cars sold worldwide.151 As each
car uses a substantial amount of mica, total use by the
automotive sector is huge.
Although TMR does not include the automotive
industry in its mica market analysis, SOMO has
concluded that the global demand for mica cannot be
understood or quantified without insight and evidence
into the many ways the automotive industry uses mica.
It is important to note that the electric car, and the
charging station infrastructure necessary to support
this nascent industry, has not been included in this
report nor in the analysis. However it is important to at
least point out that there is the potential that the
demand for mica from the growing electric automotive
industry could also play a role in the global mica
market, if it isn’t already.
148 E.Terzic, J. Terzic, R.Nagarajah, M.Alamgir, “Capacitive Sensing Technology,” Springer, 21 April 2012, https://link.springer.com/chap-
ter/10.1007/978-1-4471-4060-3_2 (12 December 2017).
149 RIM communications December 2017.
150 Interview with automotive expert on 16 January, 2018.
151 Scutt, “2016 was a record-breaking year for global car sales, and it was almost entirely driven by China,” Business Insider, 19 January 2017,
http://www.businessinsider.com/2016-was-a-record-breaking-year-for-global-car-sales-and-it-was-almost-entirely-driven-by-china-2017-
1?international=true&r=US&IR=T (22 January 2018)
Corporations have a responsibility to prevent the
occurrence of child labour in their supply chains. In
order to determine the exact nature of this responsibili-
ty, it is important to review the treaties and leading
international standards that enshrine children’s rights.
To this end, section 7.1 will outline the relevant
non-binding regulations.
The aim of section 7.2 is to describe the current state of
affairs around the due diligence efforts of some
electronics and automotive companies regarding mica.
This chapter does not intend to benchmark or rank
companies in their due diligence processes, given that
many of them had not even heard of mica until
relatively recently and their internal surveys are
therefore in the early stages.
Very few companies responded to SOMO’s questions
concerning their mica due diligence processes, and
those that did are probably more advanced than their
industry peers. Five electronics companies and two
automobile companies were forthcoming and candid
with SOMO, and the findings are summarised below.
Furthermore, we include the efforts of the Responsible
Minerals Initiative, as their mission is to assist their
members in the exercise of due diligence over mineral
supply chains.152
7.1 NON-BINDING REGULATIONS
Human rights standards for companies and states are
set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and
Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for
Multinational Enterprises (hereinaer the OECD
Guidelines). Both are self-regulatory, outline a risk
management approach to human rights risks, and are
applicable to all states and companies regardless of size,
sector, location, ownership and structure. The OECD
Guidelines and the UNGPs are not binding instru-
ments, and they lack monitoring mechanisms to
measure implementation and evaluate impact.
7.1.1. UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND
HUMAN RIGHTS
The UNGPs provide guidance for states and businesses
on how to prevent and address human rights abuses,
including in conflict-affected areas. They lay out the
corporate responsibility to respect human rights. These
Guiding Principles apply to the UN Protect, Respect and
Remedy Framework, which rests on three independent
but mutually supporting pillars:
The state’s duty to protect against human rights
abuses by third parties, including businesses, through
appropriate policies, regulation, and adjudication;
The corporate responsibility to respect human rights,
which avoids infringing on the rights of others and
addresses the adverse impacts with which a business
is involved; and
The need for greater access by victims to effective
remedy, both judicial and nonjudicial.
Although the UNGPs do not focus on children’s rights
specifically, they elaborate on the responsibility of
businesses to respect all human rights, including
children’s rights.153
In summary, businesses should themselves not cause
any adverse human rights impacts. They should also
prevent or mitigate any such impacts that are directly
linked to their operations through business relation-
ships, even when they did not directly contribute to the
adverse human rights impact.154
7. DUE DILIGENCE BY
THE ELECTRONICS AND
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRIES
152 Communications with industry experts between October 2017 and January 2018.
153 The UN "Protect, Respect and Remedy" Framework for Business and Human Rights, http://www.reports-and-materials.org/sites/default/
files/reports-and-materials/Ruggie-protect-respect-remedy-framework.pdf
154 UN, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf
52 GLOBAL MICA MINING 53
In order to comply with this requirement, businesses
are urged to develop and implement policies that
ensure respect for human rights.155 They should also
practice human rights due diligence by assessing
whether their operations negatively impact human
rights. Businesses are thus made responsible for human
rights violations in their entire supply chain and
should, for example, prevent the occurrence of child
labour in all of their suppliers. However, the UNGPs are
not in any way binding.
7.1.2. OECD GUIDELINES FOR MULTINATIONAL
ENTERPRISES
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
outline recommendations from governments to
multinational companies operating in or from adher-
ing countries. They provide non-binding principles
and standards for responsible business conduct in a
global context, which are consistent with applicable
laws and internationally recognised standards.
With regard to child labour, the OECD Guidelines state
that businesses should take effective measures to
contribute to its abolition.156 Practical steps are de-
scribed in the OECD guide Practical actions for compa-
nies to identi and address the worst forms of child labour
in mineral supply chains. 157
The OECD recommends a five-step framework for
minerals in supply chains, which is briefly summarised
in the diagram below.
Step 1: Establish strong company management
systems. Companies should adopt and clearly
communicate a company policy, structure their
internal management, establish a system of controls
and transparency, strengthen company engagement
with suppliers, and establish a grievance mechanism.
Step 2: Identify and assess risk in the supply chain,
individually or in cooperation.
Step 3: Design and implement a strategy to respond to
identified risks, engage in risk mitigation, and
regularly monitor risk mitigation efforts.
Step 4: Carry out independent third-party audits of
supply chain due diligence at identified points in the
supply chain.
Step 5: Report on supply chain due diligence annual-
ly, and make the report available at your offices and
on your website.
The Guidelines are the only multilaterally agreed and
comprehensive code of responsible business conduct
that governments have commied to promoting.The
OECD is cognisant of the fact that significant exploita-
tion of natural mineral resources is ongoing in con-
flict-affected and high-risk areas, and that companies
sourcing from or directly operating in these areas are at
a higher risk of contributing to conflict. As a result, the
OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply
Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and
High-Risk Areas was developed in order to provide a
framework for ensuring the responsible supply chain
management of minerals, including tin, tantalum,
155 UN, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf
156 OECD, http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/48004323.pdf
157 OECD, “Practical actions for companies to identify and address the worst forms of child labour in mineral supply chains”, https://mneguide-
lines.oecd.org/Practical-actions-for-worst-forms-of-child-labour-mining-sector.pdf , (February, 2018).
158 OECD, “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas”, http://
mneguidelines.oecd.org/Brochure_OECD-Responsible-Mineral-Supply-Chains.pdf, (25 January 2018).
Source: OECD.158
5-STEP FRAMEWORK FOR MINERALS IN SUPPLY CHAINS
A -STEP
FRAMEWORK
5
12345
Establish strong
company
management
systems
Identify and assess
risk in the supply
chain
Design and
implement a
strategy to respond
to identified risks
Carry out
independent third-
party audit of supply
chain due diligence
Report annually on
supply chain due
diligence
tungsten and gold, as well as all other mineral resources.
This Guidance makes it clear that when sourcing from
or operating within conflict-affected and high-risk
areas, any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrad-
ing treatment, and any forced or compulsory labour –
including the worst forms of child labour and other
gross human rights violations and abuses – should not
be tolerated.
The OECD Guidelines explain that upstream compa-
nies, depending on their position in the supply chain,
can have significant actual or potential leverage over
the actors who can most effectively and most directly
mitigate the substantive risks of adverse impacts in the
supply chain. The mitigation efforts of upstream
companies should focus on finding ways to construc-
tively engage with relevant stakeholders, as appropriate,
with a view to progressively eliminating the adverse
impacts within reasonable timeframes.
Downstream companies, on the other hand, are
encouraged to build and/or exercise their leverage over
upstream suppliers. Downstream companies’ mitiga-
tion efforts should focus on suppliers’ value orientation
and capability training, to enable them to conduct and
improve due diligence performance. Companies should
encourage their industry membership organisations to
develop and implement due diligence capability
training modules in cooperation with the relevant
international organisations, NGOs, stakeholders, and
other experts.
During risk mitigation efforts, a company’s relation-
ship with a supplier can continue, or be temporarily
suspended, or, as a last resort, involve disengagement
with the supplier. Disengagement takes place aer
failed aempts at mitigation, when mitigation is not
considered feasible, or due to the severity of the adverse
impact. The company should also take into account any
potential negative social and economic impacts caused
by the decision to disengage (SOMO, 2016). The OECD
Guidelines consider disengagement as a measure of
'last resort', stressing the importance of engagement
with business partners as the preferred means for
multinational companies to prevent and mitigate
adverse impacts via business relationships. The term
'disengagement' does not appear in the UN Guiding
Principles; they refer instead to “ending the relation-
ship”. Like the OECD Guidelines, the UN Guiding
Principles outline the company's responsibility to first
aempt engagement with a business partner, while
using its leverage to address adverse impacts. If the
company lacks leverage, it should then consider
“endingthe relationship”. The concept of leverage is
thus a crucial factor in both the UN Guiding Principles
and the OECD Guidelines when it comes to both
mitigation efforts and the decision to discontinue a
business relationship. Both sets of standards consider
leverage to exist when a company “has the ability to
effect change in the wrongful practices of an entity that
causes a harm”.159 While the OECD Guidelines clearly
state that companies have a responsibility to consider
immediate disengagement if mitigation is “not
feasible”, guidance is not provided on what, in practice,
constitutes “feasible”.160
7.1.3. EUROPEAN UNION CONFLICT MINERALS
REGULATION (EU 2017/821)161
The European Union (EU) has acknowledged that in
politically unstable areas, the minerals trade can be
used to finance armed groups, to fuel forced labour and
other human rights abuses, and to support corruption
and money laundering. The EU has identified and
recognised tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (also
referred to as 3TG), as conflict minerals. These conflict
minerals are used in everyday products such as mobile
phones, cars and jewellery. It is difficult for consumers
to know if a certain product is funding violence, human
rights abuses, or other crimes overseas. To this end, the
EU regulation aims to:
[…] ensure that EU importers of tin, tungsten,
tantalum and gold meet the international responsible
sourcing standards set by the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development. It also
aims to ensure that global and EU smelters and
refiners of tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold source
responsibly, to help break the link between conflict
159 UN, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf, page 21.
160 SOMO, “Should I stay or should I go?, Exploring the role of disengagement in human rights due diligence’, https://www.somo.nl/should-i-stay-
or-should-i-go-2
161 Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations
for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas
54 GLOBAL MICA MINING 55
and the illegal exploitation of minerals. Lastly it aims
to put an end to the exploitation and abuse of local
communities, including mine workers, and to
support local development.162
The regulation stipulates that EU importers must put in
place internal systems and processes that provide the
following information:
1. Importers of mineralsshould:
indicate which country the minerals come from, and
indicate the quantities imported and when they
were mined.
2. Importers of both minerals and metals should:
list the minerals they are importing by trade
name and type, and
provide the names and addresses of their suppliers.
This must be done as part of the importers internal
management system, and supporting documents must
be provided.
3. When minerals come from conflict-affected and
high-risk areas, importers must provide extra
information on:
the mine the minerals came from,
where the minerals were consolidated, traded and
processed, and
the taxes, fees, and royalties paid.
7.2. MICA DUE DILIGENCE STATE OF
AFFAIRS: THE FRONT RUNNERS
For most companies within the electronics and auto-
motive sectors, mica only came into focus for them in
2017. Therefore, some of the risk-based due diligence
steps that have been taken are very recent.
Some of the companies responding to SOMO’s ques-
tions concerning their mica due diligence processes
responded by sending their policies on conflict
minerals or the responsible sourcing of raw materials.
These did not however include any steps specifically
related to mica.
So far, only a few companies have initiated a due
diligence process regarding mica. The steps taken by
these companies are described below.
1) Contacting (a selection of) suppliers
A first step taken by companies is to contact a selection
of their suppliers: the ones that are most likely using
mica in their products or components. In making this
selection, some companies used the table included by
SOMO in the inquiry, with examples of devices known
for containing mica. These suppliers, which totalled in
the hundreds, were sometimes three levels back in the
supply chain. The companies asked the suppliers
whether they use mica, and if the answer was positive,
asked them to provide the name of the mica-containing
component as well as the product code, exporter and
mine.
Others companies started by gathering materials
declarations from suppliers. These declarations
indicate which materials are in the part or product by
making use of the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS)
code. The CAS code for the mica group of minerals is
12001-26-2. The declarations may state where the mica
is used, but do not give exact percentages or volumes
per component. They also do not state the source of the
various materials, either in raw or processed form.
A different methodology was used by one of the
responding car companies. This company reported that
it had entered the CAS code into its internal database to
identify components containing mica. The database
came up with 15,000 hits for components, parts, or
supplies that include mica, and these hits were subse-
quently grouped into 15 clusters (see section 6.2). This
company said that it is in the process of trying to create
more internal transparency concerning its purchases to
help identify its suppliers.
A different company had yet another method for
mapping its supply chain back to the mines. It reached
out to its affected tier one suppliers, and asked them
what they know about mica sustainability issues
especially child labour and health and safety issues, the
sources of their products containing mica and what
due diligence steps they have undertaken. They then
asked their tier one suppliers to do the same: cascade
the questionnaire and sourcing questions down to their
suppliers, and so on.
Very few of the companies interviewed had actually
asked their suppliers about the country of origin of the
mica in their products. Most are not that far along in
the process. Only three companies could mention a
number of countries where the mica in the compo-
nents they source is mined.
2) Interpretation of the results
The next step taken by the companies in this research
was to interpret the results. The companies asked the
following questions internally: what are they using
mica for? which end products is it found in? and in
what volumes? Many of the companies conveyed to
SOMO that they basically do not yet know the answers.
They also conveyed that they first want to answer the
question about how relevant mica is in their supply (i.e.
how much of their spending is on mica-containing
products) before embarking on a due diligence process
specifically for mica.
Most of the companies, save one car firm, downplayed
the volumes or amounts of mica in any single parts or
component. They even stated that given that the
volumes are small, mica might turn out to not be a
priority for the company, particularly since it is not
categorised as a conflict mineral.
Joining collaborative initiatives for mica due diligence
Companies taking part in this research prefer to join
collaborative efforts for mica due diligence, as they feel
that this will have a greater impact and be more
efficient than solo efforts. Some companies want to
help design and implement an industry scheme to
maximise their impact and avoid burdening suppliers.
An example of this kind of cross-industry collaborative
initiative is the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI),
which partners with the Automotive Industry Action
Group (AIAG).
Several electronics companies have joined the Europe-
an Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM),
which is a multi-stakeholder partnership.163 EPRM has
established a working group that is exploring the
organisation's scope: whether they want to include
cobalt and mica in their projects, for example. At the
time of the publication of this report, this decision had
not yet been taken.
Steps taken by the Responsible Minerals Initiative
In August 2017, RMI members formed an exploratory
workgroup focusing on mica. The workgroup was set up
to do some initial sensing research on the application
of mica among member industries. The RMI also
facilitates engagement with stakeholders, and in line
with its mission to assist its members, it coordinated a
collective response to SOMO’s inquiry. The RMI
collected the results of the research conducted by its
members on the application of mica in (consumer)
electronics and automotive products, and aer aggre-
gating and anonymising the results, shared it with
SOMO.
The RMI engages on a regular basis with the Responsi-
ble Mica Initiative, the multi-stakeholder partnership
working to eradicate child labour and implement fair
and sustainable mica collection, processing and
sourcing in India.
7.3. CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED
BY COMPANIES IN THE MICA
DUE DILIGENCE PROCESS
Responding companies initially said that they did not
know much about mica; that they do not source mica
directly; and that the actual incorporation of mica into
products happens several steps away. Many said that
their immediate suppliers also do not source mica
directly, nor do they know much, if anything, about
mica. One car company said, “It has been interesting to
learn where mica can be found in cars. Actually we
didn’t have a clue, other than in paints. We weren’t
aware that there would be other big applications that
use mica.
Some of the companies said that when they requested
mica due diligence information from their suppliers
they were told that it could take upwards of a year
before they would receive any information. In general,
the more complex the supply chain, the more difficult
it is to get results and the longer it takes. One company
explained that they use literally hundreds and some-
times thousands of suppliers, some of which are not
very cooperative about disclosing information.
163 European Partnership for Responsible Minerals, https://europeanpartnership-responsibleminerals.eu/member
(26 January 2018). 162 http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/conflict-minerals-regulation/regulation-explained
56 GLOBAL MICA MINING 57
The majority confirmed that for the most part, they
have no conclusive information about the volume of
the mica they use or even how much they depend on
the mineral for their products.
Companies also said that calculating the amount of
mica contained in any one product can be complicated.
One company explained that when the mica is already
incorporated into a coating, the CAS coded material
declarations show mica as one of the components of
the coating, but do not break down the exact amount or
weight per substance. The following is a sample declara-
tion: “Coating, 0.02g, comprised of 2-BUTOXYETHA-
NOL, 2-PROPANOL, AL2O3, BENZENE DIMETHYL,
CHROMIUM(III)OXIDE, FUSED SILICA, MICA-GROUP
MINERALS, SI”. This example serves to illustrate one of
the difficulties in calculating the total volume of mica in
some of these products, as there is no breakdown for the
various components of the coating.
An electronics company also explained that one of the
challenges it faces in tracing mica through its suppliers
concerns the material safety data sheet code for mica.
Mica is harmful to inhale164 in large quantities, and
therefore has a material safety code. However, according
to this industry source, once the mica is incorporated
into a product it loses the code. This is because once the
mica is encapsulated in the product, the hazards no
longer exist and precautions for handling the material
are no longer required.165 This industry source said that
once the code is lost, it is almost impossible to trace the
mica back through the supply chain.
Although some companies questioned the veracity of
their suppliers’ responses, others trust suppliers that
stated that they categorically do not use mica. However,
when SOMO checked the datasheets of some of these
same suppliers, mica was found in their components.
Based on the research, SOMO concludes that the
included companies do have polices and management
systems for minerals. However, these policies concern
conflict minerals and/or the responsible sourcing of
raw materials and do not include any steps specifically
related to mica. The companies have not yet decided
whether or not it is worthwhile to start a due diligence
process specifically for mica. Companies, stakeholders
and industry initiatives are undertaking various
actions to assist in this decision-making process.
Scoping working groups have been formed by the
European Partnership for Responsible Minerals and
the Responsible Minerals Initiative, and initial sensing
research on the application of mica in the member
industries has been kicked off.
SOMO concludes that the companies in this research,
as well as the RMI, have a strong focus on the volumes
used and the ‘relative importance’ of mica within
consumer electronics, the part of the electronics sector
where they are active. However, it is clear that all
companies active in the electronics sector in the broad
sense of the definition are users of natural mica, and on
this basis alone they should undertake risk-based due
diligence processes. This obligation does not depend
upon the quantities of mica used, or the ‘relative
importance’ of mica in their products. It rather de-
pends upon risk levels: in the case of mica, the risks of
encountering the worst forms of child labour in the
supply chain are high, and the impacts of this child
labour may be severe and irremediable.
The research done by companies to identify the use of
mica in their supply chains fits into step two of the
OECD five-step framework. However, as long as compa-
nies do not trace the origin of the mica they use, they
are not truly able to assess the risks involved.
164 Safety Data Sheet Mica, http://www.igasplc.com/media/29416/MICA-All-Grades-SDS11310.pdf (10 January 2018).
165 Industry expert communications in November 2017.
This chapter gives an overview of indicators, or red
flags, for risks around human rights and childrens
rights violations related to mica mining. A broader
perspective is taken here than in our first study, which
investigated child labour in mica mining in two states
Indian states. In this chapter, the presence, magnitude
and risk of child labour and other human rights
violations in the extraction of mica are examined on a
global scale.
Chapter 7 outlined the responsibilities for companies
regarding the prevention of human rights and chil-
dren’s rights violations (including child labour) in their
supply chains by citing the leading international
standards of the UN and the OECD.
To effectively identify and assess the risks of human
rights and children’s rights violations in the mining of
mica, SOMO identified certain indicators specifically
associated with mica mining.
More general indicators to assess the risks of child
labour in mineral supply chains are described in the
OECD guide Practical actions for companies to identi
and address the worst forms of child labour in mineral
supply chains.166 These general risk indicators include
the presence of:
high rates of poverty and unemployment;
artisanal and small-scale mining;
informal or illegal mining;
prevalence of child labour in the country across
industry sectors;
a weak institutional framework;
and conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
Furthermore, the impacts of mining can subsequently
violate children’s rights. These subsequent impacts
should also be evaluated when assessing mining-related
risks:
The loss of lands leading to displacement and disloca-
tion, and the loss of access to education, healthcare,
adequate housing and other facilities (all of which can
increase vulnerability to exploitation and abuse).
Increased morbidity and illnesses: mining children
may be affected by pollution (including water, soil
and air contamination), as well as other environmen-
tal degradations and dangers. Children in mining
areas are more vulnerable to hunger and food
insecurity, resulting in malnutrition.
Mining children oen lack access to schools, or are
forced to drop out of school due to mining-related
circumstances.
Increased migration due to mining; the mining
sector oen depends on migrant populations,
leading to unstable work opportunities for parents,
which impacts the security of life for migrant
children. An increase in child labour.167
Poor labour conditions for mine workers, including
wages below living wage, hazardous working condi-
tions, and lack of social security and/or health
insurance. All of these conditions ultimately impact
the security of life for the miners’ children.
The following sections describe the risk indicators
specifically associated with mica mining: sheet mica
mining, illegal mica mining, and weak governance and
conflict. Finally, the health and safety implications of
mica mining for children’s rights are described in the
final section of this chapter.
8.1. SHEET MICA MINING
Sheet mining is a labour-intensive process, and there-
fore not considered to be economically viable in
countries with high labour costs. It is therefore predom-
inantly done in low-income countries, by the very poor
and vulnerable.
8. MICA MINING
RISK ANALYSIS
166 OECD, Practical actions for companies to identify and address the worst forms of child labour in mineral supply chains, http://mneguidelines.
oecd.org/Practical-actions-for-worst-forms-of-child-labour-mining-sector.pdf, (February 2018).
167 India's Childhood in the "pits": A Report on the Impacts of Mining on Children in India, HAQ Centre for Child Rights, 2010
58 GLOBAL MICA MINING 59
Miners must travel deep into mining shas, and the
work is hard and dangerous. There are no machines,
and a significant part of the work of extracting, assess-
ing and preparing crude mica in sheets is done manu-
ally and with hammers and scissors. Mica sheets are
hand-picked, then placed in boxes or bags for transport
to the location where they are graded, split, and cut by
hand to various specified sizes for sale.168
Sheet miners are paid low wages, are not protected,
and are easily exploited. Generally, sheet mining takes
place in remote areas where health and education are
not on offer. Children thus work to contribute to the
family wage.
A Reuters’ report from 2016 quotes a mother talking
about her 10-year-old son, who had been mining sheet
mica since he was seven. She described how he climbed
into a so-called 'rat hole' dug into the side of a hill, and
descended three meters to pound on the mine wall with
a pick-axe in his search for mica. “I know its dangerous
but that’s the only work there is. I know Sandeep doesn’t
want to do this but it is what it is. If he was able to go to
school and learn and become something then that’s
good, but first we need to eat.169
8.2. ILLEGAL MICA MINING
During the research on the major mica-producing
countries, SOMO found that many of the non-western
mica-producing countries have mica export figures
that exceed the country’s mica production figures. This
leads SOMO to assume that illegally-mined mica has
been included in the export data, and that illegal mica
extraction is widespread.
Illegal mining is especially associated with various
socio-economic problems such as child labour, poor
health and safety conditions, limited education and
health facilities, trafficking, and security issues.
Alternatively, in legal mining, a person or company
must have a mining license or a permit to mine, and
the government must give a person or a company its
permission or a lease to mine for a certain period of
time. Although a legal mine does not necessarily
guarantee good or fair working conditions, legal mines
are subject to inspections and certifications. When
mining is illegal, the risks relating to working condi-
tions, safety, pollution, (sexual) abuse, exploitation, and
displacement will all increase, together with negative
impacts for children’s rights.
There are different ways to determine whether mica
mining is legal or illegal in different countries (see
annex for the country profiles), but for the purpose of
this report two identifiers have been used:
The reporting of illegal mines in publicly available
documentation, including reports or the press.170 For
example, Indian media have reported on the 'mica
mafia' running mines, as well 'mica ghost mines'
where the poorest, including children, toil for their
livelihoods. In 2017, several children died when mica
mines collapsed.171 SOMO's 2016 report on mica also
showed that a vast amount of India’s mica mining is
illegal. 172
Secondly, if a country’s mica export figures exceed
its mica production figures, it can be assumed that
illegally-mined mica has been included in the
export data.
SOMO specifically chose for the presence of illegal
mining as indicator, and not for the presence of
artisanal and small-scale mining. The reason for this
choice is to avoid confusion and obfuscation, as there
are no clear distinctions between artisanal and small-
scale mining and industrial mining as far as mica
mining is concerned. Some experts consulted for this
report however referred to an industrial mine as using
heavy and professional equipment such as excavators,
hoists, and trucks that can only be handled by
professionals or adults. These experts also associated
industrial mining as having a fenced area surrounding
the site.
173
168 https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica/
169 N.Bhalla, R.Chandran, A.Nagaraj, “ Blood Mica: Deaths of child workers in India’s mica ghost mines covered up to keep industry alive,” Reuters,
3 August 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-mica-children/blood-mica-deaths-of-child-workers-in-indias-mica-ghost-mines-
covered-up-to-keep-industry-alive-idUSKCN10D2NA (22 January 2018). W
170 M.Munstermann, C.Werner, “The Mica Children,” http://www.spiegel.de/international/tomorrow/a-1152334.html De Spiegel, http://www.
spiegel.de/international/tomorrow/a-1152334.html (22 January 2018).
171 N.Bhalla, “In search of sparkle: is corporate inaction on mica condemning Indian children to death?” Reuters, 19 December 2017, https://www.
reuters.com/article/us-india-minerals-child-deaths-exclusive/exclusive-in-search-of-sparkle-is-corporate-inaction-on-mica-condemning-
indian-children-to-death-idUSKBN1ED16P (22 January 2018).
172 SOMO/Terre des Hommes, “Beauty and a Beast”, May 2016, https://www.somo.nl/beauty-and-a-beast/, (20 January 2018).
173 Based on expert interviews.
One of the experts claimed that as ground mica, which
is used as filler, is always mined industrially there is no
need to investigate accompanying human rights
violations and/or child labour. However, the scrap mica
from which ground mica is made is oen a by-product
of sheet mica production or sheet mica mining. Sheet
mica is always mined at least in part by hand. Chapter 3
of this report explains that in India, no clear distinction
can be made between the mining methods for sheet or
scrap mica, as they are interdependent. This is due to
the fact that practically all scrap mica is produced
during the process of sheet mica mining, and sheet
mica mining always requires intensive manual labour
with small tools. The extraction of crude mica oen
takes place in deep shas where the work is hard and
dangerous, and where there are no machines.
It is also relevant to note that industrial mining does
not guarantee that there will be no risks related to the
loss of lands for mining. Displacement, pollution, safety
hazards, exploitation, abuse, poor working conditions
and so forth are all possible results. And all of these
situations can adversely impact childrens lives and
rights.
8.3. WEAK GOVERNANCE AND CONFLICT
If the governance in a mica-producing country is weak or
non-functioning, or if the state is fragile, corrupt or in a
conflict situation, there is a risk that the mica mining
industry will have no regulatory oversight. This opens
the door for illegal mining, child labour, and the exploita-
tion of the most vulnerable workers by mine operators.
Countries with weak governance oen lack the resourc-
es to address child labour and children’s rights viola-
tions. Although SOMO did not include a check on weak
governance in the methodology for the country
profiles, it did include the presence of 'stop child labour'
initiatives and information from the UN Commiee on
the Rights of the Child in all country profiles.
In the context of conflict-affected and high-risk areas,174
this report highlights the specific situation in Madagascar:
Madagascar had a coup in 2009. Despite democrat-
ic elections in 2013, the political situation remains
fragile, the population is very poor, and the country
has become a safe haven for widespread corruption
involving illegal activities and businesses, includ-
ing the alleged involvement of government
officials, according to the US State Department.175
The US government reports killings and mob
violence, weak rule of law, intimidation of journal-
ists, and restrictions on freedom of speech, press
and assembly.176
Since June of 2012, the south of Madagascar, mainly
the population of the Androy and Anosy regions,
has been repeatedly targeted by police and armed
militia. In this part of the country, mineral resourc-
es are significant and varied, and include industrial
minerals (uranium, mercury, rare earths, mica, coal
and ilmenite) in addition to precious and
semi-precious stones, gold, very high-quality
diamonds and oil.177
In December of 2013, a French journalist travelled
hundreds of kilometres inland with a mica trader.
Their truck journey included the city of Ilakaka
and a hamlet near the village of Analamaria in the
south of Madagascar. The journalist went with the
trader into the village to buy mica mined by the
families. There was no electricity, no gas, no
running water, no school, no health clinic, and no
officials in the village. Poor families, the elderly,
children, women and men all work together in the
in the bush to mine mica, which they had been
collecting for months. The journalist reported that
of the 80 children who lived in the village, not one
of them ever went to school. Many of the children
there were also sick.178
174
The OECD defines conflict-affected and high-risk areas as follows: Conflict areas are "Areas identified by the presence of armed conflict, wide-
spread violence, including violence generated by criminal networks, or other risks of serious and widespread harm to people. […] High-risk areas
are those where there is a high risk of conflict or of widespread or serious abuses [..] Such areas are often characterised by political instability or
repression, institutional weakness, insecurity, collapse of civil infrastructure, widespread violence and violations of national or international law."
Source: OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.
175 OSAC, Madagascar 2016 Crime & Safety Report, https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=19735
176 US Department of State, Madagascar 2015 Human Rights report, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252911.pdf
177 CETIM, Violations of human rights in Madagascar, http://www.cetim.ch/violations-of-human-rights-in-madagascar
178 ‘Sur la piste du mica de Madagascar’, Sud Ouest, 22 Décembre 2013.
60 GLOBAL MICA MINING 61
The most recent UNICEF child labour statistics
(2016) indicate that 23 per cent of all Malagasy
children are engaged in child labour.179 A national
survey published in 2012 indicated that 81 per cent
of child workers between the ages of five and 17
were engaged in hazardous work. This is equivalent
to 1.7 million children.180
Since Madagascar is among the world's top mica export-
ers, an extensive investigation should be carried out in
order to assess whether the country's mica can be given
the status of a conflict mineral.
Impact of mica mining on health and safety. Among
the most intense repercussions of mica mining on
children’s rights are the health and safety impacts.
It is beyond the scope of this report to thoroughly
analyse occupational health and safety risks related to
mica mining and processing. However, this report can
point to various examples of reported health and safety
issues in this sector.
Abrasions and broken bones are part of daily life in the
mica mines. The workers are afraid of scorpions that
hide under the rocks - and then there's the quartz dust
that they stir up and breathe in. In the evenings, they
return home with a raling cough. Many of the workers
contract asthma and black lung disease, which makes
them more susceptible to tuberculosis and cancer.
Many families subsequently go into debt to pay for
medication and hospitalisations.181
Occupational hazards include head injuries, cuts and
abrasions, skin and respiratory infections like silicosis,
tuberculosis and asthma. And the risks from mining in
poorly maintained, unregulated mines can also be
lethal.182 In 2016, child protection groupBBA’s
Jharkhand project coordinator Raj Bhushan told
Reuters that many children die on a regular basis in
mica mines. “Although there are no official figures on
child deaths in the mines, as it is all illegal, we hear
about them through our networks in the villages where
we work. Normally we hear about 10 fatalities on
average a month, but in June [2016] we documented
over 20 deaths.183
And according to a Reuters report, “In some cases, the
victims’ families are threatened by mine operators or
buyers not to report the deaths, or they are given 'b
lood
money' to keep silent so the illicit industry continues.
184
178 UNICEF global databases, 2016, based on DHS, MICS and other nationally representative surveys (ENSOMD 2012-2013). http://data.unicef.
org/topic/child-protection/child-labour
180 International Labour Organization, “Report of the Committee of Experts on the application of Conventions and Recommendations”, 5 February
2016, pages 271 - 274, http://bit.ly/1XHQGgO.
181 M.Munstermann, C.Werner, “The Mica Children,” De Spiegel, http://www.spiegel.de/international/tomorrow/a-1152334.html (22 January
2018).
182 N.Bhalla, R.Chandran, A.Nagaraj, “Bood Mica: Deaths of child workers in India’s mica ‘ghost’ mines covered up to keep industry alive,” Reuters,
3 August 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-mica-children/blood-mica-deaths-of-child-workers-in-indias-mica-ghost-mines-
covered-up-to-keep-industry-alive-idUSKCN10D2NA (22 January 2018).
183 N.Bhalla, R.Chandran, A.Nagaraj, “Bood Mica: Deaths of child workers in India’s mica ‘ghost’ mines covered up to keep industry alive,” Reuters,
3 August 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-mica-children/blood-mica-deaths-of-child-workers-in-indias-mica-ghost-mines-
covered-up-to-keep-industry-alive-idUSKCN10D2NA (22 January 2018).
184 N.Bhalla, “In Search of Sparkle: is corporate inaction on mica condemning Indian children to death?, “ Reuters, 19 December 2017, https://
www.reuters.com/article/us-india-minerals-child-deaths-exclusive/exclusive-in-search-of-sparkle-is-corporate-inaction-on-mica-con-
demning-indian-children-to-death-idUSKBN1ED16P (21 January 2018).
This chapter on global sheet mica deposits is included
in the report because several risks for human rights
violations, including child rights violations, are
connected to the locations where sheet mining takes
place. It is therefore relevant to know more about these
locations.
The previous chapters have shown that natural mica
dominates the global market, and that two grades of
mica almost equally share the global market in value:
ground mica with 53 per cent of the total market, versus
47 per cent for sheet mica. Subsequently, the research
ascertained that while the electronics and automotive
sectors use both grades of mica, most sheet mica is
bought by the electronics sector. Some industries use
mainly ground mica, including the paints and coatings,
cosmetics and construction industries. However, as was
described earlier in this report, scrap mica is oen a
by-product of sheet mica, and risks are thus not only
associated with sheet mica. It is therefore relevant for
all industries to investigate whether their mica origi-
nates from countries where sheet mica mining takes
place.
Mica deposits according to the USGS and UN Comtrade
Over the past one hundred years, sheet mica has been
found in many countries. A USGS bulletin published in
1919 lists the following countries as sheet mica produc-
ers: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina,
Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Madagascar,
India, Sri Lanka, Australia, China and Japan. Smaller
quantities were also mentioned in Mexico, Guatemala,
Norway and Russia.185
In 2010, the USGS expected that the US would increas-
ingly import sheet mica from Brazil, China, India and
Russia. It also expected the prices for imported sheet
mica to increase, given that good quality sheet mica
remained in short supply in their opinion. Although
Spain and Belgium are not specifically mentioned by
the USGS as having substantial sheet mica deposits,
these countries do appear in the UN Comtrade database
as among the larger exporters of sheet mica.186
A closer examination of the UN Comtrade dataset,
which provides export and import data on sheet mica
as a separate product category (HS Code 252510),
reveals a different picture.
According to this UN database, the top sheet mica
exporters by value in 2016 were India (US$ 7.6 million),
Madagascar (US$ 3.1 million), Brazil (US $2.4 million),
China (US$ 2.3 million) and Sri Lanka (US$ 0.6 million),
in that order.187
However, when examining the actual quantity or
volumes of sheet mica exported that same year, Mada-
gascar was by far the largest exporter of sheet mica with
15,545 tonnes, followed by India (11,081 tonnes),
Norway (6,000 tonnes),188 China (4,562 tonnes) and
Brazil (4,139 tonnes).189
In fact, the trade data revealed that Madagascar’s 2016
export of sheet mica was, by volume, the biggest export
of this product ever recorded in UN statistics. Madagas-
car exported 30 per cent more sheet mica than India
did in 2016190 (see Figure 10).
9. GLOBAL SHEET
MICA DEPOSITS
185 USGS/Department of the Interior, “Our mineral supplies”, Washington, 1919. https://books.google.nl/books?id=Q_pYAAAAYAAJ&p-
g=PA153&lpg=PA153&dq=sheet+mica+in+Norway&source=bl&ots=v0RBLvFKJm&sig=6C5ApBp3wBMnbWERwY7-pBrm33s&hl=n-
l&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi4iu3km5_VAhWJ2xoKHXGhDbAQ6AEIZTAM#v=onepage&q=sheet%20mica%20in%20Norway&f=false
186 USGS, https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/mica/mcs-2010-micash.pdf
187 Comtrade database, https://comtrade.un.org/data, (22 January 2018).
188 It should be noted that volumes exported by Norway are not consistent; the reported export volume in 2016 is an anomaly. There is no
reported export for 2015, and the reported export for 2014 volume is only 5 percent of the amount reported for 2016 (31 tonnes), Comtrade
database.
189 Comtrade database, https://comtrade.un.org/data, (22 January 2018).
190 Comtrade database, https://comtrade.un.org/data, (22 January 2018).
62 GLOBAL MICA MINING 63
191 OEC, http://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/visualize/tree_map/hs92/export/mdg/show/252510/2015
192 Comtrade database, https://comtrade.un.org/data, (22 January 2018).
SHEET MICA
EXPORT192
MADAGASCAR
VOLUME
(METRIC TONNES)
MADAGASCAR
VALUE
INDIA VOLUME
(METRIC TONNES)
INDIA VALUE
2016 15,545 $ 3.06M 11,081 $ 7.6M
2015 13,652 $ 3.04M 11,655 $ 7.7M
2014 8,648 $ 2.03M 13,758 $ 9.1M
2013 6,795 $ 1.5M 4,240 $ 6.1M
2012 4,792 $ 1.6M 4,727 $ 5.7M
Table 3: Exports of sheet mica by India and Madagascar by value and volume, 2012-2016
Data source: UN Comtrade database, table made by SOMO.
Figure 10: Major exporting countries of sheet mica by volume in tonnes, 2015-2016
Source: UN Comtrade database, graphic compiled by SOMO.
Table 4: Percentage of sheet mica in Madagascar’s total mica exports, 2012-2016
Data source: UN Comtrade database, table compiled by SOMO.
9.1.1. INDIA AND MADAGASCAR
Although the mica export figures for Madagascar are
substantial, the country has no official mica production
figures. This is a red flag and points to the illegal
mining of mica in Madagascar. It is important to note
that Madagascar’s sheet mica exports have been steadily
growing over the last five years, and that since 2012,
Madagascar has been the world’s largest exporter of
sheet mica.
In recent years, India and Madagascar have dominated
the sheet mica export market. The UN Comtrade data
in Table 3 reveals that over the past five years, higher
sheet mica exports are reported from Madagascar than
for India. The only exception is 2014, when India
exported more. Madagascar is clearly the current world
leader in the export of sheet mica by volume.
The figures show that Indian sheet mica earns more by
weight than sheet mica from Madagascar. This might
explain why the export of sheet mica from Madagascar
is increasing, as it appears to be 3.5 times cheaper than
Indian sheet mica. Another important point is that
Madagascar’s export of sheet mica, as a proportion of its
o
verall mica export, is increasing significantly, to the point
that the country hardly exports any scrap mica at all.
Table 4 below demonstrates that since 2013, the majori-
ty of Madagascar’s mica exports were sheet mica and
mica spliings. We can therefore assume that much of
these exports were destined for the electronics industry.
The data in Table 4 also demonstrates that in 2012,
sheet and split mica exports were less than half of
Madagascar’s total mica export. Since 2013 however,
sheet and split have increased to the point that they
currently represent 70 per cent of total mica export.
Given that scrap mica is a by-product of the mining,
extraction and cuing of mica sheets, it is reasonable to
ask what happens to all of the scrap mica that is le
behind during Madagascar’s sheet mica production.
The UN Comtrade dataset shows that over the last five
years, the biggest buyers of Madagascar’s sheet mica
were China, Russia, Belgium, Japan and South Korea.
China was by far the biggest customer. 191
MADAGASCAR MICA
EXPORT FROM UN
COMTRADE
MICA-ALL
(TONNES)
SHEET MICA
(TONNES)
PERCENTAGE OF SHEET
MICA IN THE TOTAL MICA
EXPORTS OF MADAGASCAR
2016 22,311 15,545 70%
2015 16,664 13,652 82%
2014 12,280 8,648 70%
2013 9,781 5,795 59%
2012 12,531 4,792 38%
INDIA & MADAGASCAR
SHEET MICA EXPORTS BY
VOLUME
EXPORT SHEET MICA BY MADAGASCAR
4000
8000
12000
16000
0
2012
VOLUMES IN METRIC TONNES
2013 2014 2015 2016
EXPORT SHEET MICA BY INDIA
2015
2016
4000
8000
12000
16000
0
MADAGASCAR INDIA CHINA BRAZIL SPAIN JAPAN BELGIUM SRI LANKA NORWAY
MAJOR EXPORTING COUNTRIES OF SHEET MICA
BY VOLUME (IN TONNES)
Figure 11: India and Madagascar sheet mica exports by volume, 2012-2016
Data source: UN Comtrade database, graphic made by SOMO.
64 GLOBAL MICA MINING 65
9.1.2. CHINA
China is a major producer, importer and exporter of
mica, both in sheet and ground form. China rivals India
as far as the volume of mica it exports; this holds for all
forms but particularly for mica powder (HS252520).
Trade data shows that China exported more mica
powder by volume between 2014 and 2016 than India
did over the same period.193
The quantity of China’s sheet mica exports dropped
between 2012 (6,270 tonnes) and 2016 (4,462 tonnes).
During this same period, the value of sheet mica
exports rose from US$ 1.8 million to US$ 2.3 million.
This indicates that Chinas sheet mica prices have risen
approximately 80 per cent since 2012. As Figure 12
shows, China buys the bulk of Madagascar’s mica, most
of which is sheet mica.
193 UN Comtrade, https://comtrade.un.org/data (22 January 2018).
194 Un Comtrade, https://comtrade.un.org/data
195 UN Copmtrade, https://comtrade.un.org/data
Figure 12: Madagascar’s mica exports, 2015-2016
Data source: UN Comtrade database, graphic made by SOMO.
MADAGASCAR’S MICA EXPORTS
2015-2016 (IN TONNES)
MICA IMPORTS FROM MADAGASCAR 2016
4000
8000
12000
16000
0
CHINA RUSSIA INDIA KOREA JAPAN BELGIUM
MICA IMPORTS FROM MADAGASCAR 2015
9.1.3. BRAZIL
The UN Comtrade dataset notes that Brazil exports
almost exclusively sheet mica. For example, in 2016
Brazil reported overall mica volumes of 4,241 metric
tonnes, of which 4,139 metric tonnes are registered in
the Comtrade data as sheet mica.194
Over the past five years, Brazil exported around the
same amount of sheet mica annually, between 3,742 and
5,590 metric tonnes each year.195 According to UN
Comtrade data, in 2016 Brazil exported 28 per cent of
its sheet mica to France, 26 per cent to Germany, 24 per
cent to the US, 19 per cent to China and 3 per cent to
Uruguay. In 2015, 69 percent of Brazil's sheet mica was
exported to Germany.
Figure 13: Brazil’s mica exports, 2015-2016
Data source: UN Comtrade database, graphic made by SOMO.
BRAZIL’S SHEET MICA EXPORTS
2015-2016 (IN TONNES)
2015
1000
2000
3000
4000
0
FRANCE GERMANY USA CHINA URUGUAY
2016
66 GLOBAL MICA MINING 67
10.1. INTRODUCTION
This chapter provides an analysis of the collected
country data, which can be found in the annex with all
the country profiles. A risk classification of these
countries regarding the sourcing of mica is also
provided.
Important risk indicators selected by SOMO for this
classification are the presence of sheet mica mining
and the presence of illegal mining (see explanation in
Chapter 8). The presence of child labour in mica
mining, or the presence of child labour in activities
comparable to mica mining such as the mining of
other minerals in the country or even in the vicinity of
the mica mining, are also taken into account.
The aim of classifying the main mica-producing and
mica-exporting countries is to broaden the discussion
around the responsible mining of mica: beyond the
Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar, and beyond child
labour. The research ultimately identifies high-risk
countries, moderate-risk countries, lynchpin countries,
and inconclusive countries (see Chapter 11: Conclu-
sions and Recommendations).
The twenty countries selected for this analysis were
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, India
(other regions), Iran, South Korea, Madagascar, Malay-
sia, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri
Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan and the United States.
The individual country analyses cover the following
aspects:
What are the details of the mica mining? What are
the production, export and import data for mica?
Who are the key industry players?
What are the human rights risks related to mica
mining in this country?
What are the possible impacts on children in this
context (excluding the western countries)?
Are there reported children’s rights violations and/or
reports of child labour (excluding the western
countries)? Are there initiatives in this country to
stop child labour (excluding the western countries)?
What did the UN Commiee on the Rights of the
Child report on this country?
Each country profile ends with a brief analysis of the
most important points revealed in the research, as well
as an indication of red flags and outstanding questions.
10. RISK CLASSIFICATION
OF MICA-PRODUCING
COUNTRIES
196 The figure appears to be mistakenly reported at 450,000.
CHINA
INDIA
CANADA
MADAGASCAR
FRANCE
USA
FINLAND
MALAYSIA
BRAZIL
SPAIN
SOUTH AFRICA
SRI LANKA
PAKISTAN
KOREA
TAIWAN
RUSSIA
PERU
ARGENTINA
IRAN
SUDAN
0 20000 40000 60000 80000 100000 120000 140000 160000
MICA PRODUCTION, EXPORTS AND IMPORTS IN 2015 OF 20 COUNTRIES
(IN TONNES, RANKED ON EXPORTS)
China India Canada Mada
gascar France USA Finland Malay-
sia Brazil Spain South
Africa Sri
Lanka Paki-
stan Korea Taiwan Mica Mica Mica Mica Mica
Import of Mica in 2016 112019 851 1296 0 2149 33542 211 945 2356 197 479 1839 944 9092 6086 1646 240 333 0 32
Mica Production 2016 151000 12491 22000 9400 20700 41500 11836 4788 12000 4000 29 1500 0 17405 8267 9000 90 7500 5600 0
Mica Export 2015 151586 135919 20483 16664 13891 7676 7226 6320 4401 3557 3518 1544 896 532 393 354 37 17 3 0
Figure 14: Mica production, exports and imports in
2015 of 20 countries (in tonnes, ranked on export)
Sources: Unless otherwise indicated, the export and import
data in this report is based on UN Comtrade sources, and
the production data comes from BGS sources. e export
figures for Iran and Taiwan are based on TMR sources.
Sudan's production and export stopped aer 2013. BGS’s
estimates for mica production in China are based on exports
and therefore more conservative than other oen-cited
sources. India’s production is based on government data.
Peru’s production is based on TMR data. Brazil’s production
is based on USGS data, as the BGS figure for Brazil appears
to be a mistake.196 Russia’s oen-cited mica production is
100,000 tonnes according to the USGS, however BGS
estimates are much more conservative.
68 GLOBAL MICA MINING
10.2. ANALYSIS
The end result of compiling and analysing the compa-
ny profiles, studying the market reports, conducting
expert interviews, and digging into the production and
trade datasets was five explicit red flag indicators. These
red flags designate a country as a high-risk area for
mica mining and a liability for children’s rights
violations.
The red flag indicators that emerged from the research
are as follows:
1. Countries ‘guilty’ of child labour in mica mining.
The use of child labour in mica mining is docu-
mented in these countries.
2. Countries ‘suspected’ of child labour in mica
mining. The use of child labour in mica mining is
suspected in these countries based on the fact that
there is evidence of child labour in other mining
activities in the country, oen in the same vicinity
as the mica deposits.
3. Countries ‘suspected’ of illegal mica mining.
Illegal mica mining is suspected in these countries,
which is associated with extremely low wages, poor
and unsafe working conditions, child labour,
limited education and health facilities, pollution,
abuse, exploitation and displacement. All of these
factors increase the risk of negative impacts on the
rights of children living in the vicinity or other-
wise connected to the area.
4. Countries with substantial production of sheet
mica. The mining of sheet mica is only done in
low-wage countries, where impoverished people
are willing to carry out this harsh and dangerous
work for lile money. The risks are connected to
the poor labour conditions, including wages below
the living wage, and the lack of social security and
health insurance. All of these factors impact
children’s rights negatively.
5. Countries with significant imports of mica mined
with child labour. These countries import substan-
tial amounts of mica from countries ‘guilty’ of
using child labour in their mica mines, and
subsequently export large amounts of finished or
semi-finished products containing mica mined
with child labour.
1. Countries ‘guilty’ of child labour in mica mining
India: Illegal mining and the presence of child labour
in the mica mines in the Jharkhand and Bihar regions
has been widely reported. Investigators have also
reported child labour in mica mines in Rajasthan.
Reports about Andhra Pradesh are however not clear.
The fact that there is also substantial illegal mica
mining in Andhra Pradesh makes it plausible that child
labour also takes place there. Investigating other
regions in India is not interesting, since less than 1 per
cent of total Indian mica production comes from
outside of the above-mentioned regions.
Madagascar: Mica mining conditions in Madagascar
are quite similar to those in Jharkhand and Bihar, and
include the use of child labour. The human rights
violations that are described as taking place in Mada-
gascar – especially in the south – to enable mining
development projects including mica mines, are having
a grave impact on children and children’s rights.
Although there are no official mica production figures
for Madagascar, it is known that the country exported
22,311 tonnes of mica in 2016. This means that at least
the equivalent amount of mica was produced. The UN
Comtrade data figures show that Madagascar’s export
figures have been rising between 25 per cent and 35 per
cent annually since 2013. This is striking, as since 2013
the majority of the country’s mica exports have been
mica sheets (82 per cent in 2015). It can therefore be
assumed that this mica is largely destined for the
electronics sector.
In 2015, Madagascar’s biggest customers for its export-
ed mica sheet were China, Belgium/Luxembourg and
Russia. Madagascar earns roughly 3.5 times less than
India and less than half of what the Chinese and
Brazilians fetch for their mica exports. Such low prices
for Malagasy mica points to the likelihood of terrible
working conditions and meagre earnings for the
miners.
2. Countries ‘suspected’ of child labour in mica mining
In a number of the selected countries, there is evidence of
child labour in mining, mining-related activities, or
activities around mining sites. Regardless of what is being
mined, these countries should be considered high-risk
countries given that other mineral-rich deposits are
sometimes in the same vicinity as the mica deposits.
For example, gold and mica are in the same region in
Peru, while talc and mica are in the same region in
Brazil. Child labour is reported in the gold, talc and
granite mines in these countries. This is a red flag, and
means that the possibility of child labour in nearby
mica mines cannot be excluded.
In Pakistan, it is reported that children's work includes
producing bricks; mining coal, salt, and gemstones; and
quarrying and crushing stone, including gypsum. The
worst forms of child labour in Pakistan concern forced
work in brickmaking, carpet weaving, agriculture,
manufacturing glass bangles, and coal mining.
It is also reported that children are working in the gem
mines of Sri Lanka, while child labour in China,
including in gold mines, is a documented problem.
In Sudan, children work in the thriving artisanal gold
mining sector; in terms of mica export, however, Sudan
is off the radar given that production has now com-
pletely ceased according to BSG.197 This development
could not however be verified by other sources. Peru
has such low export volumes that the relevance for the
global market is minimal, but there are reports that the
country wants to ramp up mining in general, so mica
output could increase in the future.
The high-risk countries in the context of suspected
child mining are therefore: Brazil, China, Pakistan,
Peru, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
3. Countries ‘suspected’ of illegal mica mining
An important red flag appears when analysing the
discrepancies between mica production figures and trade
figures, including export and import statistics. When for
example the official mica export figure exceeds the
official mica production figure, a red flag appears. This is
due to the fact that if the mica is being exported, it must
also have been produced (taking the imports into
account). Somehow, the unofficial mica ends up in the
national export statistics, pointing to the likelihood of
illegal small-scale and artisanal mica mining.
Illegal mining is associated with many socio-economic
problems including child labour, poor health and safety
conditions, limited education and health facilities,
trafficking, and security issues.
Note however that both production and export figures
are derived from so-called 'official' data sources,
provided in part by national governments. This
indicates that national authorities must be aware of the
discrepancy between export figures and illegal mining
output.
Countries with greater exports of mica than reported
mica production include India, Madagascar, Malaysia,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Any mica
exported to the world market from these countries is a
red flag, given that some of this mica will have been
illegally mined. This illegal mining is associated with
rights violations, including children’s rights violations,
and therefore requires further scrutiny and investiga-
tion.
4. Countries with substantial production of sheet mica
Non-western countries with a substantial proportion of
sheet mica production are also red flag countries. This
is due to the fact that sheet mining is associated with
labour-intensive work using small tools under harsh
and dangerous labour conditions. This report has
demonstrated that sheet mica is, in fact, only being
mined in low-wage countries where impoverished
people are willing to undertake hard and dangerous
work for lile money. There are consequently high
levels of risk related to the mine workers' labour
conditions, including wages below living wage, and a
lack of social security and health insurance. These
deficient working conditions also impact the security
of life for the miners’ children.
When scrap mica is recovered as by-product of sheet
mining, which is the case in India and also likely in all
countries with a substantial proportion of sheet mica
production, the mentioned risks for sheet mining must
also be taken into account. In these countries, sheet mica
mining and scrap mica mining are interdependent. The
red flag countries in this context are Madagascar,
India,
China, Brazil and Sri Lanka.
197 Email June 2, 2017, Teresa Brown, Mineral Commodity Geologist, British Geological Survey.
70 GLOBAL MICA MINING 71