In the mining industry it is very important that information be obtained on the ore that is mined. It is the responsibility of assayers and samplers to take samples for analysis on a regular basis.
Assaying and sampling are the processes through which small samples of ore are taken systematically from the rock face and used to determine the nature, quality and quantity of the ore.
The work of samplers is aimed at taking onsite samples, either in open-cast or underground workings of the mine. They visit different sections of the mine on a daily basis to take ore samples. This is a specialized task, since the information obtained from the ore is vital for planning.
Assayers mainly work in laboratories and determine, by means of chemical processes or other analytical methods, the quantity and quality of elements, both organic and inorganic compounds, and intermediate products in ores. They also process materials and analyze base metals, non-metallic materials, concentrates, effluents and air samples.
They use chemical processes such as fire or dry assay procedures and wet chemical methods. The determination of trace elements requires an exceptional degree of accuracy. Analyses are conducted for metallurgical accounting, process control, effluent control, environmental health and quality control.
The results obtained from the work of the assayer and sampler helps organizations or clients to plan current and future operations more efficiently.
Working conditions vary from pleasant air-conditioned laboratories to hot, dusty and physically demanding conditions. Assayers normally work in laboratories, where a clean environment usually prevails. Non-functional gas and dust extraction systems may render the environment dusty and dangerous. For samplers, working in open-cast mine or underground environment, conditions range from wet, noisy and hot rock face surfaces underground to dry, clean air, rock face surfaces of open-cast mines.
- liaising between skilled workers and engineers, management
- in the laboratory, working with state of the art equipment
- playing a vital role in the future planning of a mine and its environmental health
- some working activities may be routine and monotonoud
- exceptional degree of concentration and accuracy required
- responsiblity attached to job
- having to keep up with advances in this field
- may have to work overtime to complete tests and analysis
An assayer and sampler should:
- have an analytical mind;
- have an aptitude for scientific inquiry;
- be responsible, systematic and neat;
- be interested in the environment and especially geology;
- maintain good interpersonal relations
- have a medical certificate of fitness.
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Geography
Degree: A BSc with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, along with practical training, can be followed - most universities.
Diploma: The N.Dip. Analytical Chemistry is offered at the universities of technology - CPUT, DUT, UJ, TUT and VUT
In-service training is also provided and diplomas are obtained as studies are completed on a part-time basis. The Chamber of Mines issues this diploma. Theoretical training is done through distance training through the UJ and Technisa Practical training must also be completed.
- Analytical, chemical and commercial laboratories of companies involved in prospecting, mining, metallurgical, refining, reduction and research operations
South African Institute of Valuers
P O Box 14331
1019 Schoeman Street
Tel: (012) 342-9056 Fax: (012) 342-7574
Head of Training
Chamber of Mines
P O Box 61809
Tel. (011) 498-7100
Human Resources Department
P O Box 62379
The Senior Personnel Officer - Sourcing
Gold Fields Trust
Private Bag X11
Tel. (011) 752-1145