Intel using conflict-free minerals in effort to stop slave labor - KPTV - FOX 12

Intel using conflict-free minerals in effort to stop slave labor

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After much public outcry, several of the World's largest tech companies said they're keeping a closer eye on the minerals they use to produce their products.

It's all in an effort to stamp out slave labor in place like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich said he is working on using conflict-free minerals for all of their products.

Semi-conductors power the smart phones, tablets and laptops that have become indispensable parts of our lives, but few of us stop to think about what goes inside of our gadgets.

Krzanich, CEO of chip giant Intel based in Hillsboro, is trying to change that.

"The complex electronics products, you gotta remember that the materials that produce those come from all over the world. In some cases, like these conflict minerals, they come from areas that are ravaged by wars and internal conflict. And so there is choice and you should ask questions about what is inside of products that you are buying," said Krzanich.

Krzanich said he didn't always know about the places that supply the company with materials and when he found out, he said he took action.

"A group of us went on and researched about just what was going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it was atrocious, especially at that time, the slave labor, the working people, literally to death in these mines. This is a unique place..where the minerals we are talking about...tin, tungsten and gold, they are really right on the surface. You don't have to have the classic mines like we think of. And so you can literally use child labor, any kind of labor you can drum up to collect it. It's quite profitable for them."

Intel's goal spurred by U.S. Legislation requiring companies to disclose the origin of materials was to create an extensive tagging and audit system.

The company will only source from mines determined to be conflict-free and they have worked with smelters and refineries around the world to verify the origin of the materials.

"We can do our part. We are engineers and engineers are taught early in their education that you solve complex problems by breaking them down into pieces. And so that is what we did here. We worked through and understood how much material comes from the DRC, where are the smelters. We broke it down by material...these will be a little bit easier, gold was going to be a bit tougher since we don't buy as much gold as say the jewelry industry, so our influence was lower. When you run a company like this, you look for places where it's unique to your company that you believe you could make an impact. The real key is if consumers get behind this and make choices based on this, then it becomes important to everybody in the supply chain as well."

Intel is continuing to grow. In June, $17 billion sealed the deal for Intel to buy rival Altera.

Altera makes chips used in phone networks and cars.

This was the biggest buy for Intel in its nearly 50 year history.

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