Panel + Q&A (*Maximum 4 Panelists)

Investing in Socially Responsible Artisanal & Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM)

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The Artisanal and small-scale gold mining industry (ASGM) employs 10-20 million miners in over 80 countries, producing roughly 20% of the world’s gold. The ASGM sector is often associated with a range of social and environmental problems. However, it is now broadly recognized as an essential development opportunity for rural communities.

For decades, many public sector programs have worked with mining communities, governments, and others to improve the sector. These efforts focused on introducing social improvements and revolutionizing artisanal mining methods to generate positive economic and environmental impacts. This evolution is key to including the ASGM sector into the formal global economy. Investment opportunities in promising ASGM operations offer significant potential to realize healthy returns as well as dramatic and measurable improvements. Twelve of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) overlap with the development of a more responsible and sustainable ASGM sector. Such improvements include increased participation of and incomes for a higher number of women and the reduction – and in most cases elimination – of mercury use.

Many ASGM communities are interested in transitioning to more responsible production practices. Yet, they face significant challenges in accessing financial markets that would make this transition possible. PlanetGOLD – a $45 million programme funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) – is a change initiative that requires strong partnerships with responsible private capital to address the magnitude of the issue and sustain the development efforts.

PlanetGOLD spans nine countries and three continents, focusing on creating sustainable ASGM businesses by promoting clean technology, formalization, and access to finance and markets. A set of operational criteria for miners participating in the program ensures that environmental and social safeguards are met and provides metrics for measuring impacts.

Panel participants have decades of in-depth working knowledge in ASGM, including operations, supply chain, and access to finance. The session will provide background on ASGM and review the potential for generating positive returns as well as introducing social and environmental improvements. The session will also include a frank discussion on the barriers to investment and the tools available to help de-risk the sector.

Confirmed Panelists

Dr. Kevin Telmer, Ph.D. – Executive Director

Kevin received his Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa in Geochemistry. He held a tenured Professorship at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria from 1999 until 2011 before taking the lead position at the Artisanal Gold Council. He started his work in artisanal mining in 1995 in the Brazilian Amazon. In the following 20 years, he has worked in numerous countries across three continents. He has extensive experience in technical, policy, and business capacities in the field with miners, governments, international institutions, and industry. He has become a world-renowned expert and a voice on the international stage with numerous publications on the issue, including authoring the global estimate on mercury use in artisanal gold mining used to negotiate the Minimata Convention.

Creating sustainable business opportunities for investors and the bullion and jewelry markets while improving the economics, health, and environment of miners and their communities in collaboration with governments is a direction that Dr. Telmer brings to the council. A primary goal is to increase responsible artisanal gold production to volumes that are significant relative to the size of the burgeoning sector.

María Dolores Almeida Sánchez – Finance and Gender Equity Expert

María Dolores Almeida has over 20 years of experience in economics, public finance, climate change financial, decentralization, gender-sensitive budgeting, and project evaluation in different countries in Latin American. She also has relevant experience in development programs, technical assistance, investigation, capacity building, and resource mobilization strategies in different thematic areas.

María Dolores has worked for public institutions (national and sub-national) and international technical organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, German Technical Cooperation, UN Women, UNICEF, UN Environmental, and the Latin American Economic Commission (ECLAC).

María Dolores is an Economist who graduated from the National University of Tucumán (Argentina) and holds a Master’s Degree in Economics with emphasis on Decentralization and Local Development and with a Gender-Sensitive Budgeting specialization.

Kenneth Porter – Project Manager and Supply Chain Expert

Kenneth has spent the last nine years helping artisanal gold miners establish traceable and responsible supply chains. He has been at the forefront of the market shift towards responsible sourcing of precious metals, having worked with jewelry brands, mints, and gold refiners from Europe and North America on how to source and market ethical artisanal gold. With one foot in the artisanal mines and another in the responsible gold markets, he has a vision of how both sectors can collaborate to add value via ethical supply chains and contribute to a formalized, environmentally sound, and socially responsible artisanal gold mining sector. He has developed very specialized skills at effectively engaging actors in the gold market to understand, support, and contribute to the artisanal gold mining sector.

Kenneth has been very fortunate to have been able to help four different ASM organizations in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia achieve their first ever direct exports of gold, helping them to establish, develop and maintain trading relationships.

Kenneth grew up in Ottawa, Canada, did post-graduate studies in Toronto, and has spent significant time living and working in Medellin Colombia. He speaks English and Spanish, and some French.

Firas Abbasi, MBA, CFA – Business and Investment Specialist

Firas has over 12 years of experience in the investment management industry. He received his MBA with a Finance specialization from the University of British Columbia in 2008 and has been a CFA charter holder since 2011.

Early on in his career, Firas worked for Citigroup in Amman, Jordan, and Dubai, UAE, in technology, banking operations, and corporate banking. In January of 2008, he joined British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), where he became the mining investment specialist for the internal active Canadian equities portfolio. He was responsible for a portfolio of 25 investments in the materials sector, with input into multiple portfolios totaling ~$11 billion. In 2018, he started his portfolio management consultancy practice, where he advised discretionary portfolio managers with ~$300mm in AUM on asset allocation and fundamental investment processes.

Impact and socially responsible investing have always been areas of interest for Firas. He joined the Artisanal Gold Council with the mission to improve the sustainability of the ASM industry by enhancing the industry’s access to finance.

He is fluent in Arabic and English.




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