Intel, the company that essentially makes the world run with its microprocessors, recently made a game-changing announcement at a Las Vegas electronics convention: this year, it would phase out all “conflict minerals” from its microprocessors.
The move is particularly significant in light of the Dodd Frank rule, which requires companies to disclose whether they have sourced conflict minerals. While several industry groups and other companies have argued that the disclosure requirement puts an unfair burden on them, Intel has proven that removing conflict minerals from its supply chain will not lead to legal dilemma or bankruptcy. Given the round of good publicity for the company, Intel has also proven that doing good makes the company look good.
While Intel's move is highly commendable, it and other electronics companies can do even more to build responsible supply chains and minimize the damage they cause by sourcing from irresponsible mining companies.
Conflict-free is important. But so is mercury contamination-free and child labor-free. The DRC is not the only place of conflict in which mining companies operate — and the human conflict it fuels is perhaps the gravest but not the only damage they cause — Consider forest destruction, water pollution, and other human rights violations as examples.
Earthworks' No Dirty Gold campaign addresses all these issues, calling on mining companies and retailers to improve their practices. We have a list of Golden Rules for more responsible mining that includes operating in conflict areas, but addresses other social and environmental impacts as well.
Intel's move likely signals an industry shift toward a supply chain that eliminates the fueling of conflict in the DRC. But Intel should do more to ensure it sources minerals responsibly. We've called on the company and other electronic companies to sign the Golden Rules several times. Now is the time for Intel and other electronics companies to take comprehensive measures to adopt the Golden Rules and take steps to reduce the impacts — all of the impacts — of irresponsible mining.