Computer chip manufacturer, Intel, has sworn to avoid sourcing minerals from countries inundated with armed conflict and human rights infringements.

The manufacture of computer chips rely on minerals such as gold and tungsten, of which are often mined and smelted in counties where the control of mineral wealth is associated with atrocities, armed conflict and poor treatment of workers.

Within these conflict zones, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations Security Council Committee reported that these minerals are used a source of funding for local armed groups.

Brian Krzanich, Chief Executive of Intel, said that,

‘The minerals are important, our industry relies on them, but they’re not as important as the people mining them […] As you begin to put these factories around the world, you begin to think about the impact on the supply chain and the potential issues you could be causing.’

Krzanich has implemented an audit of the entire supply chain, he stated that by avoiding minerals sourced from DRC would be an ‘easy answer’ but that would deny thousands of people the ability to earn a living.

Intel launched an investigation into the smelters that provided them with tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold, in order to ensure that the company was not inadvertently funding conflict. Those who refused the audit were dropped as suppliers. Krzanich commented,

‘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’.

Intel have also challenged the entire electronic industry to join them and stated that while the auditing process was costly due to the travel and manpower expenses, it will only have a minor impact on the cost of its products.

The announcement was made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), currently being held in Las Vegas, where the company has also unveiled a wireless charging bowl that will recharge compatible devices when placed inside, a headset operated through voice recognition, and a smartwatch. Intel also introduced their Edison chip; a SD card sized dual core processor with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in.

Source: The Telegraph

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