Quality Control of Geochemical and Assay Samples

Quality Control of Geochemical and Assay Samples

Areas of Study: Exploration and Geology

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This practical course is concerned with the principles, procedures and tools for quality control of geochemical and assay samples on a mineral project. Topics include: statistical tests; sources and measures of error in sampling, subsampling and analysis; and procedures for monitoring data quality. This course is a "must" for anyone concerned with interpreting assay results and/or implementing quality control procedures. *** This is a premium course which has been peer-reviewed by a committee appointed by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME).

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  • Audience Level:
  • Professional
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 25 hours

Course Summary


In recent years there has been a strong international move toward knowing and improving the quality of information used in the mining industry for mineral project exploration reporting and resource/reserve estimation. In Canada this trend has been accentuated because of recent, highly publicized scams that involved contamination of samples. An important aim of quality control procedures is to minimize the likelihood of such scams so that the public is not misled as to the economic potential of a mineral deposit. Quality control procedures also serve the technical purposes of identifying sources of and quantifying both random errors and unintentional bias in sampling, subsampling and analytical routines and thus provide the basis for improved procedures of data collection that translate into improved resource/reserve estimates.

One of the important reactions in Canada to recent mining scams has been the implementation of what is known as National Instrument 43-101 (NI43-101) in which a wide range of requirements, relating to mineral project reporting and resource/reserve estimation, are laid out. These requirements identify a Qualified Person (QP) who is responsible for all technical matters related to obtaining and publicizing both assay data and resource/reserve figures. This course incorporates a variety of procedures designed to fulfill the requirements of NI43-101 insofar as standard, blank and duplicate samples can be used to define and monitor quality of geochemical and assay values that are the basis of deposit evaluation.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed a variety of widely distributed publications dealing with quality control systems for a wide range of industrial settings. The application of the ISO standards to resource/reserve estimation procedures necessarily involves all steps of the published procedures. Too often quality control is thought of only in terms of quantitative measurements. A broader perspective is essential and must include the categorical and qualitative data that are inherent in geological studies.

Course Content

The course comprises 22 viewing sessions at both summary and text level, plus multiple-choice reviews, worked examples and exercises, and a comprehensive glossary. Course duration is equivalent to 24 hours of viewing content. An optional download of sample data files and P-RES software, a statistical tool for interpretation of assay results, is included.

The former title of this course was "Quality Control of Assay Data."

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss statistical parameters used in error analysis.
  • Discuss and apply statistical tests used in treating duplicate and replicate analyses.
  • Discuss, apply and interpret practical measures of sampling and analytical errors.
  • Discuss sources of error in sampling, subsampling and analytical procedures.
  • Discuss and apply procedures for monitoring data quality.

Recommended Background

  • A degree in geology, metallurgy, mining or related discipline.
  • An understanding of the basic principles and methods of statistics.

Alastair J. Sinclair

Alastair J. Sinclair obtained his B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. degrees in geological engineering from the University of Toronto (1957 and 1958) and a Ph.D. in Economic Geology from the University of British Columbia (1964). From 1962 to 1964 he taught in the Dept. of Geology, University of Washington, Seattle; and from 1964 to 1998 taught at the University of British Columbia.

In addition to teaching at UBC he was Head of the Department of Geological Sciences (1985-1990) and Director of Geological Engineering (1991-1998). He is presently Professor Emeritus in geological engineering at the University of British Columbia. For many years he taught courses in Economic Geology, Mineral Inventory Estimation and Mineralography and Ore Microscopy. His research activities have focused on Mineral Exploration Data Analysis, Resource Estimation of Mineral Deposits and Quality Control Aspects of Resource Evaluation.

He has presented a wide range of short courses for mining companies and professional organizations and has consulted widely for the international mining industry; he continues to be active in these fields.

Asger Bentzen

Asger Bentzen graduated in geological sciences from the University of British Columbia in 1968. Since then he has had a varied experience in the mineral exploration industry and as part of the technical support staff of many research projects at the University of British Columbia. Throughout his career he has specialized in the use of computers in the earth sciences and has consulted extensively in that field. He has published a variety of technical/scientific papers on computer applications in mineral exploration and deposit evaluation and designed and wrote the P-RES software available within the course Quality Control of Assay Data.