Conflict diamonds are a well-known problem, but Intel has announced today that four rare metals found in its processors are also liable for come from mines controlled by warlords.
Intel’s idea is that it wants to produce hardware that makes lives better, even for the people involved at the start of the production process. Of course, Intel accepts that many of these people will be too poor to afford its products, but it still thinks it can improve their situation enormously.
The big problem for Intel is, of course, that in can’t choose where the earth’s natural resources are located. And because the four materials – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – are somewhat rare, choices are limited. But also, the company says that it didn’t just want to walk away from the people who were being abused, it wanted to make things better for them.
Intel has therefore worked with a number of partners to make sure that it is able to improve conditions at the mines it uses. All of the Chromebooks shown at Intel’s event today are running Haswell and Bay Trail processors that contain materials mined under much better conditions.
Perhaps this move will help Intel and Chromebooks make inroads into selling to charities, who may have ethical considerations at the heart of their organisations.