International brands form partnership to combat child labour in Ugandan mines

21 September 2017

Leading market players Philips, Fairphone, UNICEF, Fairtrade and Stop Child Labour have entered into a partnership with Solidaridad for a two-year programme that aims to combat child labour in small-scale Ugandan gold mines. Establishing child labour-free zones and promoting more environmentally friendly and human-friendly ways of extracting gold could significantly improve the sector. Philips and Fairphone will be using this responsibly mined gold in their electronic products.

The project began as the first initiative under the framework of the recent Responsible Gold Agreement  (in Dutch) signed by all participating partners.  

1.5 million children are in danger

There are about 1.5 million children currently employed at small-scale gold mines worldwide. In Uganda, the mines employ approximately 15,000 children, who have to work in severe conditions. Every day, they are subjected to risks such as the collapse of the mines, the use of toxic mercury and carbon monoxide poisoning. Many of these children come from unstable families with low incomes and rarely attend school, if at all.

Cooperation throughout the entire chain

In the programme, the partners are making preparations to combat child labour in Uganda. Solidaridad is working to ensure the relevant mines extract their gold in a more responsible, efficient and profitable manner. Stop Child Labour is focusing on the prevention and reduction of child labour in and around the mines and is encouraging children to attend school. Fairtrade is taking care of the certification of the gold, and Philips and Fairphone, both considered leaders in making the electronics industry more sustainable, will be using this certified gold in their products. UNICEF is currently lobbying Ugandan national parties in order to implement better legislation in respect of child labour. This partnership and the programme will last for two years and will serve as an example for the development of multiple projects intended to deal with the issues that permeate the gold mining industry.

Learn more about Solidaridad programmes for responsible gold mining.