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Minerals 2018, 8(6), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8060232

Integrating the Theory of Sampling into Underground Mine Grade Control Strategies

1
Minerals Engineering Research Group, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
2
Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia
3
Department of Mineral and Energy Economics, Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University, Murray Street, Perth, WA 6000, Australia
4
School of Mining Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 24 May 2018 / Accepted: 25 May 2018 / Published: 29 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sampling across the Mine Value Chain)
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Abstract

Grade control in underground mines aims to deliver quality tonnes to the process plant via the accurate definition of ore and waste. It comprises a decision-making process including data collection and interpretation; local estimation; development and mining supervision; ore and waste destination tracking; and stockpile management. The foundation of any grade control programme is that of high-quality samples collected in a geological context. The requirement for quality samples has long been recognised, where they should be representative and fit-for-purpose. Once a sampling error is introduced, it propagates through all subsequent processes contributing to data uncertainty, which leads to poor decisions and financial loss. Proper application of the Theory of Sampling reduces errors during sample collection, preparation, and assaying. To achieve quality, sampling techniques must minimise delimitation, extraction, and preparation errors. Underground sampling methods include linear (chip and channel), grab (broken rock), and drill-based samples. Grade control staff should be well-trained and motivated, and operating staff should understand the critical need for grade control. Sampling must always be undertaken with a strong focus on safety and alternatives sought if the risk to humans is high. A quality control/quality assurance programme must be implemented, particularly when samples contribute to a reserve estimate. This paper assesses grade control sampling with emphasis on underground gold operations and presents recommendations for optimal practice through the application of the Theory of Sampling. View Full-Text
Keywords: underground mine grade control; Theory of Sampling; sampling errors; representative sampling; sampling protocol optimisation; quality assurance/quality control underground mine grade control; Theory of Sampling; sampling errors; representative sampling; sampling protocol optimisation; quality assurance/quality control
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Dominy, S.C.; Glass, H.J.; O’Connor, L.; Lam, C.K.; Purevgerel, S.; Minnitt, R.C. Integrating the Theory of Sampling into Underground Mine Grade Control Strategies. Minerals 2018, 8, 232.

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