A Look into Crystal Mining

A Look into Crystal Mining

Claire Gibson

The buying a selling of crystals has been a booming business, especially over the past three years. Demand for these gorgeous crystals has gone up. Companies and groups selling crystals are known to exploit their workers for easier and faster production of products, even if that means having children work illegally for them and risking people’s lives to get orders out. 

Many of today’s rose quartz comes from Anjoma Ramartina, Madagascar. Many people that mine for rose quartz are part of small groups that mine for certain businesses with little to no regulation and are paid very little. Many homes in Anjoma Ramartina are left without running water or network, and malnutrition is common. About a quarter of Anjoma Ramartinas locals are left to earn their living working in the crystal mines, despite the horrible and dangerous conditions. “Sometimes it’s very dangerous but they still mine, because they want money,” Deputy Mayor of Anjoma Ramartina, Mary Jean Rahandrinimaro says. “There’s the possibility of a landslide, that happens a lot here. The soil falls on them and they die.” 

On average 2-4 people die every year in the crystal pits. In many mines, there are certain particles of dust that are extremely dangerous for the lungs. The dust that is found in these mines often gets into the workers’ lungs, which can prove to be deadly. Not much is known about these mining sites because they have been under the rule of the military for several years, but the media reports that these conditions are hazardous. Due to the massive military vehicles and private companies, the pollution is extremely high with many accidents. Concerns have been rising that the profits benefit the private companies and the elite military more so than the workers and locals.

According to the US department of labor, about 85,000 children work in these crystal mines at ages 5-14. These children in Madagascar face some of the worst forms of child exploitation. Children tend to work in these mines without supervision, even with the risk of getting hurt. The children engaged in these dangerous mining practices often have many health conditions such as lung and respiratory damage, hearing and vision problems, joint disorders, and many more. These children are exposed to hazardous tools and machinery, toxic chemicals, and dust that are known for causing silicosis. Silicosis is a lung disease that is caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust. Due to this, inflammation and scarring form on the upper lobe of the lungs. In India, many children who work as gem cutters and polishers often drop out of school early to provide for their families. Many earn as little as 8 USD a month. Research has found that many children who work as gem polishers are young girls. 

Although this does not cover all the harsh realities of working conditions in the crystal business, this brief view gives some insight into what has been going on for the past few years. Furthermore, always ask where your crystals come from and question if they are mined ethically!