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The Conflict Over Conflict-Free Minerals

Intel, Apple, and HP struggle to comply with controversial SEC rules
People carry bags of tin ore down a hill from the Mudere mine near the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
People carry bags of tin ore down a hill from the Mudere mine near the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of CongoPhotograph by Junior D. Kannah/AFP via Getty Images

Like most advanced chips these days, Intel’s contain tantalum, gold, tin, and tungsten—elements that can be mined on the cheap in war-torn parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Carolyn Duran’s job is to make sure the company doesn’t use so-called conflict minerals. For the past five years, Duran, Intel’s supply-chain director, has paid for independent audits and led the company’s own audits of metal producers to determine if their ore comes from mines controlled by militias in the DRC, where a decades-long civil war has claimed millions of lives. It’s as tough as it sounds, she says: “Every single member of Intel’s conflict team has felt, at some point, that we’ve hit an insurmountable task.”