Bankable. Credible. Sustainable.


Jealous of Conservation Biologists? Postcard from South Africa

Leopard siting in South Africa

As I reflect on recent trips to a game lodge and Kruger National Park, and wildlife aspects of gold mining or renewable projects, I realize that I feel jealous of conservation biologists I work with. Are you jealous too? What do you think makes a good conservation biologist?

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Prizma re-engaged by Kumtor Gold

Nazari at Kumtor March 2014Prizma was re-engaged by the Kumtor Gold Company to provide environmental & sustainability consulting services. The Kumtor gold mine, part of Centerra Gold, is the largest western-operated gold mine located in the Kyrgyz Republic. Prizma's engagement includes supporting Kumtor with the development of its annual environmental and sustainability report, using the GRI framework, and studies needed to pursue certification under the International Cyanide Management Institute’s (ICMI) Cyanide Code. Previously, Prizma assisted Kumtor with projects ranging from formulating it's biodiversity management strategy to training community relations officers (CROs). Learn about Prizma's other engagements here. (Shortlink:

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Inspiring Women associated with Kumtor Gold

Easton Routh Nazari at Kumtor

A recent visit to the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan provided opportunities to meet a series of inspiring women. These include staff eager to adopt best practice and entrepreneurs who form part of Kumtor's local procurement and supply chain.



Last week, a team comprising Peter Easton, Chris Routh and I (see picture further above) visited the Kumtor gold mine in the Kyrgyz Republic. Each visit to this country is very fascinating, not only because almost each time I visit I learn that the government has been changing (Kyrgyzstan's Acting Prime Minister Resigns). This time, I found three encounters with Kumtor’s female staff and suppliers particularly inspiring.

First, I was inspired by the translator in the environmental department at the Kumtor mine site. She had already been very supportive in translating training materials aimed at improving wildlife and bird monitoring at Kumtor’s tailings management facility. However, her enthusiasm to learn more about and actively participate in the wildlife monitoring program was contagious. She motivated her colleagues and my team members alike.

Second, I was impressed by the human resource manager at the Kumtor mine. She shared with us examples which highlights Kumtor’s considerable efforts to maximize local hiring and improve the credibility of that process. I learned, for example, that vacancy announcements for drivers can attract upwards of 1,500 applications from the region which is characterized by high level of unemployment. Using a committee approach involving external community monitors, applicants are screened. Approximately 100 are short listed for formal interviews. Just imagine the enormous administrative effort associated with this process.

Candidates ultimately selected to fill the vacancy will be very happy to have landed a very desirable job with Kumtor. However, some of the many rejected candidates express their frustrations by accusing the company and community monitors of unfair or unethical practices, despite all the transparent measures in place to ensure otherwise. Such accusations may be more reflective of general frustration of people whose experience is reflected in the Kyrgyz Republic’s lowest (=worst) 10 percent ranking in the Transparency Internationals Corruption Perception Index or statistics contained in EBRD’s 2013 Transition Report. It notes that over one-third of Kyrgyz SMEs say that unofficial payments are required in everyday business.

During interviews with several business leaders whose products are important elements of Kumtor’s local supply chain (see also Local Procurement in Canadian Mining Sector), I found myself inspired by the story of one woman entrepreneur. She was a former employee of a bankrupted sewing and garment manufacturing company. However, 10 years ago, she started what has now become a successful and award winning sewing company. Her company is a supplier of personal protective clothing to Kumtor and other private and public sector organizations. And her company provides jobs to dozens of people.

I hope we will be able to expand Kumtor and Centerra’s 2012 reporting and capture some of these stories in their 2013 sustainability reports.

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Local Procurement in Canadian Mining Sector

EWB Local Procurement by Canadian Mining Industry CoverIn February 2014, Engineers Without Borders Canada released a study on public reporting covering local procurement by the Canadian mining industry. Which companies were singled out as leaders and how does this compare to procurement reporting in some  GRI reports to which I contributed?


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Postcard from London: Meeting at EBRD, Harpenden or Joburg?

persian meal at Simurgh

Being based in the UK has its upsides. It is not as cold as Wisconsin (-26 F yesterday) and you can easily visit Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge (stadium). Reconnecting with colleagues and friends can be more tricky. Luckily, we could arrange to meet in Joburg.


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Prizma: Successful 2013, Promising 2014

Prizma winter 2013 news cover imageWhile the economic recovery continues to be uneven, Prizma’s focus on collaborative opportunities involving projects in emerging markets continues to prove a profitable growth strategy. Access Prizma's Winter 2013 Newsletter here.  (Shortlink:

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Providing EPIII and IFC PS Training to Nordic Institutions

Equator Principles III EPIII Training Course

On December 19, 2013, Prizma successfully delivered a 1-day course on the updated Equator Principles (EPIII) and IFC Performance Standards to about 40 representatives from DNB, Norway’s largest financial services group, and Export Credit Norway and GIEK, which are Norway’s export finance and guarantee agencies. - What are the challenges you face with the emergence of the updated Equator Principles III and elements you would have liked to hear about in a short course? (Shortlink:

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EP3 and IFC PS Course: the Good, Bad and Ugly

Equator Principles III IFC Performance Standards 2012 Training Course

Returning from a course on the Equator Principles (EP III) and IFC Performance Standards (IFC PS) in London, it is time to reflect on feedback provided by participants, and plan next event at TD Bank in Toronto on 29 Oct 2013. Shortlink:

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Eco Oro – formerly Greystar – Angostura gold under IFC CAO Review

Eco Oro Angostura Project under CAO Review

In April 2011, I posted a blog entitled IFC-owned Greystar/Angostura gold development in trouble and wondered if  IFC’s Ombudsman/Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) office (or others) would be asked to review why and how IFC proceeded with a $12 million equity investment in this project, which became reincarnated as Eco Oro Minerals Corp (TSX: EOM). Read the rest of this entry »

Precedent setting application of Equator Principles in High-Income OECD Countries?

Image from Ichtys Project Website

While the application of Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards for large capital developments in emerging markets is increasingly common, it is interesting to read that the same environmental and social benchmarks have also been applied in a US$ 20 billion limited recourse financing deal for the Ichthys LNG project in Australia, a High Income OECD Country.  (Shortlink: Read the rest of this entry »