Large numbers of children are found in Afria, Asia, and South America mining for gold, often using toxic elements like mercury.

High Price of Gold is Child Slave Labor

JEANETTE PAVINI’S BUYER BEWARE [from MarketWatch]

By Jeanette Pavini

Award-winning broadcast journalist and author Jeanette Pavini writes the Buyer Beware column for MarketWatch and wants to hear your stories, questions, problems and complaints. Write to her at BuyerBewareMKTW@gmail.com .

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold has been one of the greatest investment stories of the past decade, and its safe-haven appeal is likely to continue, with demand remaining solid for physical gold and gold jewelry. But regardless of the price gyrations in gold futures and demand, do we really know what the cost of gold is in human terms?

The surge in demand for physical gold has not only polished the fortunes of large mining companies, but has also driven a modern-day gold rush: The United Nations estimates there are between 15 million and 20 million gold miners in more than 70 countries worldwide.

What consumers need to be aware of is where the gold GLD -0.07%   and gold jewelry they purchase originates from. For the most part, gold comes from large-scale industrial mining operations which require skilled labor. Large mining operations in developing country can spur economic growth for the region.

But some artisanal and small-scale mining operations, known as ASMs, operate in poorer regions and places where child exploitation and human trafficking is common. Read more

Child Labor Coalition Announces Top 10 Child Labor Stories of 2011

List Points to Some of 2012’s Child Labor Priorities

Washington, DC—Advocates from the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group representing more than two dozen organizations concerned with protecting working youth, has released a list of the top ten child labor stories from 2011. The list represents international and American issues in child labor that received considerable attention in 2011 and what advocates hope is an increase in attention to exploitation faced by vulnerable child workers that has previously gone unnoticed by mainstream media.

“The year brought some much needed attention to serious child labor problems in the supply chains of some of the world’s largest companies,” said Reid Maki, Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition and the Director of Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards for the National Consumers League (NCL). “However, we also saw a disturbing move in a few states to roll back long-standing child labor protections and a much-publicized attack on child labor laws by a presidential candidate.

The year’s 10 biggest stories, according to the CLC, included (in no particular order):

Apple acknowledges that child labor contributed to the making of iPhones and other electronic gadgets in its Chinese factories. In February, Apple announced that it had found 91 children worked at its suppliers in 2010—a nine-fold increase from the previous year. The company also acknowledged that 137 workers had been poisoned by the chemical, n-hexane, at a supplier’s manufacturing facility and that less than a third of the facilities it audited were complying with Apple’s code on working hours. In the year prior to December 2010, Apple had sales of over $65 billion.

Victoria’s hidden “secret”: children help harvest the cotton that goes into garments. Bloomberg Markets Magazine revealed in December that some of the cotton retail giant Victoria’s Secret uses is harvested by young children in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. The piece profiled 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire, who works on a cotton farm, where she said she is routinely beaten by the owner. By hand, Clarisse performs work that many farmers use a plow and oxen to perform and often works in 100-plus degree heat and eats just one meal a day. Some days she gets no food. Many of the children like Clarisse are considered “foster children” and receive no wages— most do not attend school. Limited Brand, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has annual sales in excess of $5 billion.

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