Sampling protocols that are designed to suit the mineralisation style will result in a reduction of the nugget effect and hence resource risk. The a priori need for all sampling programs is the effective characterisation of the mineralisation type(s) to support optimisation. This requires a program of sampling for sampling followed by holistic characterisation. At each end of the coarse-gold to fine-gold spectrum, the samplability of a deposit ranges from relatively simple for fine-grained disseminated gold particles, through to extremely difficult for coarse nuggety mineralisation. Many deposits contain a proportion of both particle size types. The proportion and size of coarse gold particles has a direct impact on the effectiveness of sampling, where coarser particles will require larger samples and more specialised protocols. The nature of mineralisation geology/mineralogy and associated gold particle sizing can only be determined by sampling to facilitate optimised protocols. Mineralogical studies, focusing on particle size, particle clustering and distribution in host minerals, are required as part of wider paragenetic and metallurgical investigations. This paper discusses the role of mineralogical studies in the characterisation of gold ores for sampling optimisation through a series of case studies.
Grade control programs aim to deliver economic tonnes to the mill via accurate definition of ore and waste. The foundation of a successful program is high quality sampling supported by geology and a suitable data management and modelling system. Underground sampling methods include chip, channel and panel samples; grab/muck pile samples; and drill-based samples. Grade control strategy is related to mining method and orebody type. Sampling protocols must be designed to suit the style of mineralisation in question. Holistic studies focussing on ore mineralogy and gold particle deportment, size and distribution are required for sample collection and preparation protocol optimisation through 'Theory of Sampling' application. Where possible, such programs should be undertaken early in the life of a project. Appropriate assaying procedures are also required. Program implementation will require suitably skilled individuals to train and mentor staff, with ongoing Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) monitoring and review will allow protocols and staff to be updated as required.