September 04, 2020 – The company is taking further important steps to ensure respect for human rights in the vicinity of mineral mines. For one project, it has partnered with the NGO Terre des Hommes Netherlands and joined the Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) to combat child labour in Indian mica mines. The cooperation with the aid organization Bon Pasteur against child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was initiated in 2019, has since achieved its first successes.
Start of social project with Terre des Hommes in India
The cooperation with the NGO Terre des Hommes Netherlands in Jharkhand (India) aims to enable children in the vicinity of mica (mica) mines to attend school and to support their families economically. Among other things, the raw material mica is used to achieve the shimmering effect in vehicle paints. The project aims to prevent parents from having to send their children to work in mica mines. At the same time, a good education increases the chance that the children will be able to earn their own living later as adults and that the family will not be dependent on income from child labor. In addition to the educational opportunities for children, local structures are also to be strengthened and children's rights are to be educated. To this end, the company and Terre des Hommes Netherlands also work together with regional aid organisations. Mercedes-Benz has extended the project until 2025.
We are taking consistent action against child labor with three measures: our Human Rights Respect System, on-site audits and cooperation with non-profit organizations. The cooperation with Terre des Hommes and the Responsible Mica Initiative is another important step in combating child labor in mining regions and creating future opportunities for the people. It is part of our sustainable business strategy to achieve lasting positive changes locally.
Joining the Responsible Mica Initiative complements existing activities
By joining the Responsible Mica Initiative, the company intends to take even more consistent action against child labor in mines in the future. The initiative is committed to a fair, responsible and sustainable mica supply chain in India. To this end, standards for responsible working conditions have been developed together with other companies, NGOs, industry associations and government representatives, local communities have been strengthened and the development of a legal framework for the mica industry has been supported.
Social, ecological and economic aspects are the basis of Daimler’s sustainable business strategy. For us, ethically responsible raw-material extraction and processing begins right at the start of the value chain. We are intensively involved in the supply chain – going as far as into the raw-material mines. This is why we are involved in the project with Terre des Hommes and are joining the Responsible Mica Initiative.
Successful start of project with Good Shepherd International Foundation in Congo
In order to actively counter the violation of human rights at an early stage, the company takes a systematic approach: A strategic approach to respecting human rights, the Human Rights Respect System, has been developed for both the company's own majority societies and supply chains. As an important measure, the company has identified potential risk raw materials. The aim is to successively make the supply chains for these potential high-risk raw materials transparent and to take risk-based measures.
Two years ago, Mercedes-Benz Cars made its paint supply chains transparent, audited mines and processors and traced the path of mica. The project with Terre des Hommes and the accession to the Responsible Mica Initiative complement these measures in order to achieve sustainable improvements on the ground around the mica mines beyond the company's own supply chains. "We are following the recommendation of NGOs and other external stakeholders not to exclude countries of origin of critical raw materials as sources of supply, but to work locally to improve the situation," says Markus Schäfer.
Project with NGO Bon Pasteur in Congo successfully launched
Similar to mica, the company is also proceeding with cobalt. In addition to the measures, such as checks through audits in its own supply chains, the company launched a social project against child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo back in 2019 with the aid organization Bon Pasteur. The aim is to improve the living conditions of the people in the Kolwezi mining region. The project has got off to a successful start and has reached important milestones after just over a year.
"A central component of the project with Bon Pasteur is to give the children in Kolwezi the chance of education and thus a perspective for the future. Thanks to the cooperation with Bon Pasteur in the Congo, more than 300 children have been able to attend school in the last twelve months," says Renata Jungo Brüngger. More than 50 of them had previously worked in mines. In addition to schooling, the children receive health care.
Another focus is on the creation of alternative livelihoods, especially for women, for example through the development of sustainable agriculture. More than 50 women received training in agricultural technology. In the first year of the project, more than two tons of harvest have already been harvested, which is an important source of food and income for the families and thus an alternative to working in the mines. Additional milestones in the past year have included educational counselling for parents, education on children's rights and training in conflict management to resolve disputes in the local community peacefully.