How To Audit A Laboratory

Seminar by: Barry W. Smee , Ph.D., P.Geo.

The credibility of information obtained from the analysis of exploration samples was damaged severely when details of the Bre-X deception were revealed, and consequently altered the way in which exploration samples are handled. Prior to this event, even though most exploration companies had acknowledged that Quality Control (QC) procedures were important, few companies had actually formalized a corporate-wide procedure to quantify the quality of their sampling and analysis. Many exploration companies incorrectly assume that all commercial laboratories incorporate a comprehensive QC procedure when performing analysis, one that will guarantee the accuracy and precision of their data. Although most laboratories do have some form of QC procedures, many do not have the necessary in-house controls to monitor both sample preparation and analytical methods. Most third-world laboratories, for example, do not have a Certified Fire Assayer on staff, and therefore could not meet the proposed Canadian stock exchange guidelines for QC procedures in mineral exploration.

Each exploration organization must assess the quality of the laboratories they propose to use for their sample analysis. The only fair way to undertake this assessment is to make an unannounced visit to the laboratory during normal working hours, and examine the analytical procedures and equipment first hand. This seminar shows the strengths and weakness to look for in a laboratory, and teaches the exploration geologist the methods required to make this assessment.

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