Around the mid 2000’s there was a lot of talk surrounding the challenges around conflict minerals. Intel decided in 2009 to conduct a conflict study of their supply chain. The surveys show that some people knew who was in their supply chain, while others had no idea. Intel then decided that they needed to have a more efficient method in assessing who is in their supply chain and work to address the issue and avoiding having conflict minerals in their supply chain. Many people suggested they use minerals from countries other than the DRC where there is not this major conflict going on.
The challenge is that it happens not just with conflict minerals, but with a number of social responsibility efforts. The fact is that if you leave that area, then the civilians are worse off because there is no one there trying to help them. If Intel and others within the electronics industry can really push others to use conflict mineral free smelters and refiners, it can help the civilians on the ground. Primarily because they are not funding those militias who are murdering and or torturing civilians. Leaving conflict areas can be more detrimental than if you stay and try and help the situation, which is what Intel is trying to do. Since 2009 Intel had visited more than 100 smelters and refiners in 21 countries. Through this process they have identified 213 smelters as compliant for conflict free. The whole strategy is to validate the smelters and refiners as conflict mineral free then have companies only utilized those particular smelters and refiners.