Crystals, always the rage in New Age circles for their purported healing powers, have over the past five years become a multi-billion-dollar global industry.
But just a tiny fraction of those billions is seen by the impoverished crystal miners of Madagascar, who work in atrocious conditions, in hand-dug mines, to feed the frenzy for amethyst, rose quartz, carnelian, and other stones in the world’s rich countries.
Previously, the unsafe and brutal conditions workers suffer have remained almost completely invisible to consumers.
Now an exposé in The Guardian reveals the shockingly high human costs of the crystal trade in Madagascar, one of the poorest nations in the world, where 85,000 children labor in suffocating tunnels, and are at risk of being buried alive in mine collapses.
These and other workers also suffer from high rates of silicosis and lung cancer.
Madagascar’s immensely biodiverse rainforests are also at risk as the crystal boom expands and the country’s myriad impoverished communities turn to crystal mining as a source of subsistence income at the expense of the environment.
Unlike gold and diamond mining, according to The Guardian, the emergent global trade in crystals has no or few mechanisms to ensure transparency or fair-trade practices.
Source: The Guardian