The war on conflict minerals began heating up this week, following a controversial court case and an unexpected announcement at CES. On Monday, Intel announced that all of its microprocessors released in 2014 will be free of so-called conflict minerals: a class of four materials used to fund armed groups and militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other central African countries.

Intel says it spent four years working to implement its supply chain program at the urging of human rights organizations and high-profile activists. The US government and other international groups say the trade of conflict minerals — including tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold — has helped finance violent groups and regimes in the DRC, where a relentless cycle of war has killed at least 5 million and displaced countless more since the 1990s.

"We felt an obligation to implement changes in our supply chain to ensure that our business and our products were not inadvertently funding human atrocities," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said at Monday’s presentation.

By making the announcement during its CES keynote, Intel is looking to bring a relatively obscure policy issue to a broader consumer audience. Today, the company held a panel interview in the middle of the show floor with Krzanich and House of Cards actress Robin Wright, who has been an outspoken activist for conflict-free minerals. The company clearly wants to cast itself as an industry leader in socially conscious manufacturing while reaping the positive CES coverage that’s likely to follow.