Editor's Note: This post authored by Hayes Brown originally appeared on ThinkProgress.
Tech giant Intel on Monday announced that its entire 2014 line of microprocessors would be free from so-called “conflict minerals,” making them the first in the rare mineral-heavy industry to completely phase out their use in one of their products.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was speaking at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on the company’s strategy and new products to be released over the coming year when he revealed the culmination of their efforts. The tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold that Intel purchases — all of which play heavily into the manufacturing of microprocessors and other electronics — will all be guaranteed to not have come from mines that pass their profits on to armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other mineral-rich areas of Africa.
“The minerals are important, but not as important as the lives of the people who work to get them,” Krzanich said. Enough Project senior researcher Sasha Lezhnev told ThinkProgress that Intel’s step was a “huge breakthrough to defund the warlords” that operate in the Congo. “It really does help move the supply chain from being opaque and turning a blind-eye on its sourcing to being more transparent.”
The 2010 financial sector reform bill known as Dodd-Frank and its provisions related to conflict minerals has spurred many of the changes seen in the tech sector related to how it sources its raw materials. Since its passage, Intel and other electronics industry manufacturers have been working to come into compliance, both to adhere to the law and for the boost in popularity that will surely come with being able to market their products as “conflict-free.” Lezhnev said consumers would begin demanding such products, calling it the “wave of the future,” and noting that he’d already received questions about when the first conflict-free iPhone would be available. “Now that Intel has made the first conflict-free product,” he continued, “it’s important for Apple, Boeing, Tiffany, to make their own conflict-free products.”
Photo: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (AP)