News / Science & Technology

    Intel Says Chips Are 'Conflict-Mineral' Free

    Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is seen speaking at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is seen speaking at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
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    Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is seen speaking at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
    Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is seen speaking at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
    VOA News
    U.S. chip maker Intel Corp said its processors are free of so-called “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    The announcement, the first of its kind from a U.S. technology firm, came from Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in his keynote speech to the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday.

    "Two years ago, I told several colleagues that we needed a hard goal, a commitment to reasonably conclude that the metals used in our microprocessors are conflict-free," Krzanich said. "We felt an obligation to implement changes in our supply chain to ensure that our business and our products were not inadvertently funding human atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even though we have reached this milestone, it is just a start. We will continue our audits and resolve issues that are found."

    The strife-ridden area of eastern Congo is rich with minerals crucial to the making of many electronics products. These include gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten.

    Over the past two decades, militant groups, rebels and various ethnic groups have been waging a bloody conflict fueled by money from “conflict minerals.”

    While Intel’s announcement is a first, other companies will soon have to disclose any "conflict minerals" present in their supply chains as stated in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which aims to make transparent various companies’ financial interests in the DRC. The disclosures must be made by the end of May of this year.

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    by: William Qiam from: Vienna, Austria
    January 11, 2014 5:21 PM
    The biggest problem for both Intel and Enough Project is that both organizations know that it is impossible for Intel to do what they said they could, remove ALL "conflict minerals" from their supply chain the way they said it was accomplished.

    Exclusively utilizing the ITRI "bag and tag" and the EICC smelter certification programs is that this self audited simplistic process will NEVER keep "conflict minerals" out of a supply chain in the east of the DRC and the other Great Lakes countries of Africa.

    I suggested to ITRI (International Tin Research Group - a UK based tin support trade group) and EICC (The Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition - US based support group of all the global electronics manufacturing) that simply including the mineral fingerprinting capabilities of the mining industry standard XRF technology would give the necessary mineral traceability at a fraction of the cost of the "bag and tag" process alone.

    Both ITRI and EICC certification processes are certifying the well known members business practices that the UN Group of Experts and others have consistently reported as being the prime drivers of the instability in the east of the DRC and Great Lakes region since colonial trading days. All one has to do is visit the mining areas in all the Great Lakes countries and they will see first hand that the standard of living of these mining areas is less developed now than during colonial times.

    As I suggested to the SEC, and was included in the final "conflict minerals" rules unless the existing technology is utilized it will not be possible to conduct a "reasonable country of inquiry" that is now possible but not if there is no will on the part of companies of the stature of Intel to address this issue in a reasonable manner.

    All Intel has really done accomplished at CES 2014 is use CEO Brian Krzanich keynote speech as a marketing gimmick to sell more product. The miners in the east of the DR Congo will have to wait for some small real change to their safety and basic livelihood improvements. I was Managing Director of a miner workforce of 3,800 in Rwanda and saw first hand the abuses the ITRI "bag and tag" process not only doesn't stop but actually encourages.

    by: Obama's Law from: DRC
    January 09, 2014 3:28 AM
    Intel audited some of these smelters itself (see here: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3024292/starting-now-all-intel-microprocessors-are-conflict-free-heres-how-the-company-did-it).

    This sets a dangerous precedent that risks turning this issue into a tick-box exercise that values style over substance. Take, for example, last year's tragedy in Bangladesh where more than 600 garment workers died in a building collapse that had been audited as 'safe' by many of the multinational companies sourcing from it.

    The comparison with Bangladesh raises another serious issue. In the case of the garment industry, companies are auditing the direct source of the product being sold. This is not the case here.

    Most important in determining the conflict-free nature of minerals from the eastern DRC is not what happens from the smelter to the final product, but from the mine to the smelter. You can go as deep into a smelter as you like, it's not going to tell you about the most important journey minerals make before they get there.

    www.obamaslaw.com

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