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The Simple Facts about Sampling Gold Ores


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Author G J Lyman, I G Robertson and T Day


Various approaches are used in the industry for establishing procedures (sample mass estimation and method of subsampling) for sampling and analysis of gold ores. The key factors that determine the accuracy of the results that can be expected for a given set of procedures are widely misunderstood.

Recent developments in sampling theory show that the estimation of the accuracy that can be expected for a given gold ore as a function of sample mass is actually a simple matter. For a given sample mass, the accuracy that will be achieved depends only on the grade of the ore and the range of masses of the grains of the gold in the ore. This, of course, demands that a reasonable estimate of the distribution or spread of gold grain masses in the ore be known. But this is something that should be known if the gold is to be efficiently recovered in the processing plant.

This paper provides a simple explanation of the real facts about sampling of gold, either in the field or in the plant, and provides results for a number of cases of combinations of fine and coarse gold in an ore. The prerequisites for accurate gold sampling are:

  • correct sampling with no loss of sample or contamination
  • sample preparation procedures that recognise the impact of the gold grain mass spread
  • practical analysis of the sample masses required to provide acceptable accuracy.

Issues of corporate governance are also discussed.


Lyman, G J, Robertson, I G and Day, T, 2016. The Simple Facts about Sampling Gold Ores, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 159–172 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).