The CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich used his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to announce that every microprocessor that Intel ships in 2014 will be made using conflict-free minerals. Krzanich, who previously led Intel’s supply chain and manufacturing transparency efforts that culminated in today’s announcement told Co.Exist that his initial reaction to the ‘conflict mineral’ issue was to just ditch sources from the DRC and nearby countries and rely instead on conflict-free regions but that his team quickly decided that wasn’t the right approach. He said that avoiding minerals from the DRC would have been an “easy answer” but that it would have deprived thousands of the chance to earn a living, noting that “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. The minerals are important, our industry relies on them, but they’re not as important as the people mining them.” Instead of avoiding the DRC, Intel took the more difficult road, supporting conflict-free sources within the region, and implementing a huge audit of the whole supply chain. To date, Intel has visited more than 60 different smelters working with the four types of ‘conflict minerals’ in 20 countries. Krzanich said that the auditing process was expensive in terms of travel and manpower, but that it will have a negligible impact on product costs and challenged the entire electronics industry to join Intel in its efforts. Carolyn Duran, manager of Intel’s ‘conflict minerals’ program said that Intel still buys minerals from the region, as long as it’s comfortable the mines are in good hands; we are not intending to leave the region behind.” Unfortunately not all industries take the same approach and ITRI notes that many tungsten buyers in particular are avoiding even conflict-free material from Africa.