Mica has many applications. Its visual properties provide effects in cosmetics and in coatings for automotive OEMs. The electronics industry relies on mica’s natural insulating properties for cables, capacitors and a myriad of other products. Mica is a functional filler in plastics and construction materials and a lubricant in oil and gas drilling.
In 2017, 20 companies and NGOs established the RMI. To achieve an ambitious goal of establishing a responsible and sustainable supply chain and eliminating child labor in the sector by 2022, RMI adopted a strategy that would simultaneously implement three program pillars. Together, the programs would lead to outcomes that would benefit both members of the global supply chain and sustain the village communities that provide the local mica workforce.
First, to secure the supply chain every RMI member participates in a mica mapping protocol that links the mica in their products to individual mines and processors. Concurrently, RMI partnered with an Indian workplace practices expert to develop environment, health and safety standards – including labor practices that prohibit child labor – that would be adopted by the mines and processors. The mapping protocol and workplace standards operate in tandem so that all RMI members can support – with resources provided by RMI – the implementation of these standards within their supply chains.
However, taking children out of mines – without addressing the underlying causes – would not provide a permanent solution.
Therefore, RMI’s second program pillar focuses on empowering and supporting the communities that supply the mica workforce.
A staff of more than 90 professionals drawn from eight Indian NGOs and trained local village leaders works to improve the quality of village schools, deliver better health care to women and children, and identify additional means of livelihood to reduce village dependence on mica. Launched in the first half of 2018, the community empowerment program has already reached 80 villages and benefited more than 5,300 households.
To further promote a long-term solution, RMI’s third program pillar advocates for laws and regulations that will provide an inclusive and sustainable legal framework for the sector. RMI supported the establishment of a Business Committee, comprised of local mica industry leaders, and a Civil Society Committee to develop and validate the legal framework in collaboration with state government representatives and to support the other program pillars.
RMI’s multi-stakeholder approach turns policy into practice. Our program pillars implement the mandates and fulfill the goals established by intergovernmental bodies such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the OECD’s Practical actions for companies to identify and address the worst forms of child labor in mineral supply chains. In recognition of RMI strategy and accomplishments, in 2018 RMI was recognized in a case study by the U.S. Department of Labor International Labor Affairs Bureau in its annual report on child labor and by the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights as best practice at its annual November conference in Geneva.
Today, RMI has more than 50 members who are the sole source of funding. We invite members of the coatings industry, their suppliers and their customers such as automotive OEMs to join RMI and become part of the solution. For more information about RMI please visit us at www.responsible-mica-initiative.com and read our RMI 2018 Annual Report.