The Certification of Proficiency In Assaying Examination
Board members are Mr. Manzur Chaudhry, Ms. Elaine Woo and Mr. David Tye. As Chair of the Board of Examiners, Mr. Chaudhry is instrumental in maintaining the high standards for the written and practical examinations.
Board of Examiners
Individuals listed below may be contacted by writing to them using e-mail addresses in the format
| Mr. Manzur (Mac) Chaudhry
2320 Lexington Place,
Victoria, B.C. V8N 5K4
| Ms. Elaine Woo
3700 Willingdon Ave,
Burnaby, B.C. V5G 3H2
| Mr. David Tye ,
9050 Shaughnessy Street,
Vancouver, B.C. V6P 6E5
All correspondence regarding the Certification Program should be addressed to:
Mr. Stephen M. Rowins, Chief Geologist & Executive Director
British Columbia Geological Survey,
5th Floor 1810 Blanshard St.
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9N3
- The objective of this examination is to test proficiency of the candidate in the entire assay procedure from raw sample preparation to data analysis.
- The examination comprises two parts: theory and practical, held separately, with an interval of a minimum of eight weeks. Part 1 consists of two written papers of 3 hours each given on the appointed day. Part 2 covers practical laboratory work done in an eight- hour period each day for five consecutive days.
- A candidate must pass Part 1 to be eligible to sit for Part 2. Elapsed time between Part1 and Part2 must not exceed 18 months.
- A certificate that entitles a person to practice assaying in British Columbia will not be issued until the candidate has passed both parts of the examination.
- There are no restrictions whatever as to who may or may not take the examination. However, for developing the requisite skills, it is highly desirable of a candidate to take a course of study such as offered by British Columbia Institute of Technology or alternately possess a collegelevel understanding of analytical chemistry. In addition, the certificate candidates must have a solid grasp of laboratory procedures as well as minimal acceptable competence in operational aspects of modern laboratory instruments.
Claims for Exemption from the Examination
- A person who has passed courses in analytical chemistry and/or assaying in an accredited (by the Board of Examiners) university or school of mines, may be eligible to receive a certificate entitling him/her to practice assaying without taking the examination. Or, with such qualifications, he/she may be required to take an oral examination before a majority of the members of the Board of Examiners.
- A person claiming exemption must submit a transcript of his/her university or institute of technology career. This transcript should come to the Board of Examiners direct from the Registrar of the institute or university. The university or school calendar should also be submitted. It should be clearly understood that the Board of Examiners has the sole right to decide whether or not the school or university shall be regarded as accredited. Claims for exemption call can be made at any time.
- The fee is not refunded if the application is withdrawn or rejected by the Board of Examiners.
- An entrance fee of $395 is charged for the Theory examination. This fee must be paid not later than February 1st for the March examination, and not later than August 1st for the September examination.
- A candidate who has qualified to sit for the Practical examination is required to pay a fee of $695 within 30 days of successfully completing the Theory part of the examination.
- Fees are not refunded if the candidate fails the examination, nor if he/she does not take the examination.
- A processing fee of $500.00 must be submitted together with the exemption application and $300.00 for a duplicate copy of a certificate. For these items certified cheque or money order should be made payable to B.C. Assayer’s Foundation and mailed to Chair Board of Examiners at the address given above.
When and where Examinations are held
Part 1- Theory examinations are held once a year, generally in the spring, the intending candidates must notify the chairperson of the Board of Examiners no later than January 2nd of the year to receive notification of the date and location of examination.
Part 2 - Practical examinations are scheduled when a minimum of four candidates have qualified and are ready to take this examination. Candidates are notified of the date and location at least 30 days before the examination date.
Scope of Examination
The examination consists of two parts:
Part 1- Theory Examination
Part 1 consists of two written papers of 3 hours each, both being closed book exams. Paper 1 deals with Precious Metal Assaying, Sampling Theory and Practice, Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Statistical Analysis.
Part 2 deals with Classical Assaying, Instrumentation, Acid Base Accounting and Safety Practices in an assay laboratory including the Federal legislated Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
NOTE: Only non-programmable scientific calculators will be permitted in both papers and examinations.
The majority of the questions in Paper 1 deal with fire assaying and others deal with sampling and other topics. Some of the topics covered are listed below:
- Theory of the assay fusion and its application to gold, silver, and platinum group element assaying in samples of different matrices pertaining to mining, mineral exploration, mineral processing and metallurgical plant products.
- Concepts of fusion and its chemistry, precious metal collection techniques and mediums, cupellation and scorification processes, calculation of fusion mixture (charge), properties of reagents and their effects on precious metal collection and the slag.
- Gravimetric and instrumental finishing techniques of fire assay methods. Description and care of various assay equipment and tools.
- Procedures for non-fire assay methods of precious metal analysis and associated limitations.
- Assaying of gold-cyanide solutions and problems.
- Sampling practices in mining, smelting and shipping of concentrates and ores.
- Sampling theory in the preparation of representative material during comminution process and related contamination/cross-contamination issues. Candidates will be expected to know the equations involved in the reduction of sample size and part sampling of the material.
- Comminution equipment and techniques.
- Statistical, quality assurance/quality control methods including the calculation of mean, median, standard deviation and confidence limits based on hypothetical data.
- Candidates should be able to demonstrate complete understanding of laboratory safety including safe laboratory practices. Candidate should also possess full knowledge of the Federal Government "Workplace Hazardous Material Information System" (WHMIS) regulations and be able to comprehend the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDs).
Paper 2 covers a wide range of analytical techniques commonly used in a modern laboratory. The acid base accounting refers to the methods used in test work pertaining to acid rock drainage prediction of proposed, working, and abandoned mines.
Candidates must be knowledgeable and prepared to answer questions dealing with the following topics:
- Theoretical aspects of chemistry including structure and states of matter, chemical equilibria, chemical kinetics, chemical calculations, and basic concepts of thermodynamics.
- Distinction between the concepts and goals of qualitative and quantitative determinations.
- Elementary procedures of inorganic chemistry and the application of basic principles and theory of chemistry to various methods of analysis, particularly classical chemical methods as well as common electrochemical and UV-Visible spectroscopic methods.
- Basic chemical reactions in classical methods and sample preparation steps prior to instrumental method of analysis.
- Theory, principles and applications of instruments used for analytical chemistry, in particular atomic and molecular spectroscopic methods, as well as the absorption, emission and fluorescence processes and associated interferences (spectral and chemical).
- The concepts of atomization in atomic spectroscopy based upon flame, plasma and electro-thermal methods (arc, spark and graphite furnace).
- Components of instruments, radiation sources, wavelength selectors, radiation detectors, instrument calibration including selection of an instrument for a particular analytical purpose and setting up of operating parameters for optimum precision and sensitivity.
- Quantitative application of Mass Spectrometry (MS) and hyphenated methods (ICP-MS) including molecular spectra from various ion sources.
- Collection and treatment of data for the purpose of assessment of limits of detection and uncertainty of results from various types of instrumental analytical techniques.
- Sample decomposition techniques in classical and instrumental methods of analysis.
- Basic principles of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and various methods used in Acid Base Accounting (ABA).
- Principles and procedures in quantitative analysis in modern and classical methods of the following elements: aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismuth, cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, selenium, silicon, sulphur, tin, tungsten, uranium and zinc.
Particular stress will be laid on the sources of error, interfering elements and basic chemical reactions in the methods. Candidates must be prepared to give detailed procedures only for the elements written in italic. Candidate should be prepared to give brief outlines of the procedures for the elements not underlined. If an instrumental method of analysis is chosen for a detailed procedure, t he examinee's answer should include a detailed discussion of calibration and of possible interference and errors and how to avoid them.
Candidates will be expected to know the common sources of error and interference as well as the basic principles involved in the operation of laboratory instruments. These include: Laboratory based and portable X-ray fluorescence, atomic absorption, Arc-ES, ICP, ICP-MS and DCP emission spectrometers, ion selective electrodes (including pH electrodes), electroanalytical methods (polargraphy, anodic stripping, coulometry, etc.) fluorimetry and colourimetry techniques. The candidate is also expected to and be able to discuss; the relative advantages and disadvantages of these instruments for a given analytical application, what errors might be encountered and how to avoid them, and how to calibrate the various operational parameters. The examinee will also be required to possess knowledge of the major building blocks of these instruments and the purpose of each.
Typical Written Papers
In order to acquaint the candidate with scope of written papers and the type of questions asked, a sample of recent papers will be supplied on request, however, it should be clearly understood that these questions are not necessarily any more important than any of the other topics listed above. A suggested reading list broken down under different headings is to serve as a rough study guide.
Part 2: Practical Examination
Candidates are permitted to use textbooks, notes and calculators during the practical work. Candidates are also required to be able to make accurate and precise measurements of elemental concentration, ranging from several percent levels to trace level, in suitably prepared samples, using both "classical" and instrumental methods of analysis. These include the following:
- Gold, silver and platinum group elements in samples of various mining related products and ore or mineral exploration samples. The candidate is not restricted to "classical" fire assay and/or instrumental methods of analysis.
- Samples of suitably prepared concentrates, ores, furnace products and other min eral processing product or by-products containing from trace level to high percentage concentrations of any of the following elements: aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismuth, cadmium calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium? silicon, sodium, sulphur, tellurium, tin, tungsten, uranium and zinc.
Furthermore candidates are required to be able to:
- Qualitatively analyze, without the use of any instruments, in a given acidic solution for several elements. For this the use of multi-element instrumentation is prohibited so as to test candidate’s understanding of separation scheme of ion/molecule to chemical equilibrium principles as related to this type of analysis.
- Make mineralogical determinations by physical means, of a number of the common minerals and rocks. The only equipment allowed is a magnet, knife, streak plate, hand lens and dilute acid.
- Follow a standard procedure to operate the analytical instrument in a safe manner, collect suitable data, evaluate the reliability of the collected data, and report results in an appropriate form made available by the invigilator.
- Candidate must use personal laboratory safety equipment (lab coat, safety glasses, disposable gloves etc) when present in a laboratory. In addition; must demonstrate safe working practices in the handling, use, and storage of laboratory chemicals and compressed gasses, be knowledgeable and comply with local regulatory requirements, and be able to immediately apply correct emergency procedures in the event of an accident.
The choice of methods to be used rests entirely with the candidates with the exception that the practical qualitative analysis part will be performed by classical wet chemical techniques. An additional exception is that ICP/ES and XRE techniques are not acceptable for quantitative analysis. The reason for not permitting the use of ICP/ES and XRF is that the candidate need not set up the necessary inter-element corrections, calibrations and instrumental conditions since they are stored in computer memory and can be previously established by someone else. The use of an atomic absorption spectrometer that the candidate must set up at the time of the examination is acceptable.
The candidate will be allowed to bring to the examination previously standardized solutions.
Candidates must provide themselves with such platinum ware as they may require, as this will not be furnished at the examination.
Standard of Examination
Not less than 67% must be obtained on the entire examination with not less than 50% of the marks allotted for the theory part of the examination and not less than 50% of the marks allotted for the Assaying portion of practical examination. Should a candidate fail to obtain 67% overall he/she will be required to take the entire examination again and pay the prescribed fees.
|Precious Metal Assaying Sampling/Sampling Theory and Statistics||
|Precious Metal Assaying||
|Pass Marks to be obtained by a candidate:|
Suggested Reading List
- Fire Assaying
- Instruments and Instrumental Analysis
- General Analysis
- Sampling and Statistics
- Quality Assurance / Quality Control
- # Bugbee, E.E.; A Textbook of Fire Assaying, 3rd ed.; John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York, 1940 (out of print but valuable) 1991 reprinted.
- Beamish, F.E.; The Analytical Chemistry of the Noble MetalsPergamon Press Inc.; New York, 1966.
- Beamish, F.E. and J.C. Van Loon; Analysis of Noble Metals: Overview and Selected Methods; Academic Press, New York, 1977.
- * Hafety, G., L.B. Riley and W.D. Goss; A Manual on Fire Assaying and Determination of Noble Metals in Geological Materials; US. Geological Survey, Bulletin 1445 (1977).
- Van Loon, J.C. and R.R. Barefoot; Determination of the Precious Metals; John Wiley & Sons Ltd., England, 1991.
- Joseph Haffty, L. B. Riley, and W. D. Goss, A Manual on Fire Assaying and Determination of the Noble Metals in Geological Materials 1977
- Cornelis Klein & Cornelius S. Hurlbut, Jr., Manual of Mineralogy (after James D. Dana), 1993.
- Thomas Kirke Rose & W. A. C. Newman, The Metallurgy of Gold, 1986
- Methods Manual- Vol 1: Gold Analysis in Alkaline Cyanide Solutions A Society of Mineral Analysts Publication, 1989
- Methods Manual- Vol 2: Gold Analysis in Mill Process Solids A Society of Mineral Analysts Publication, 1989
- Testing and Assaying Gold - Silver - Platinum “Prospector Ed”, 1992
- Sigmund L. Smith, Fire Assaying for Gold and Silver , 1980
- Jenkins, R.A. and J.L. De Vries; Practical X-ray Spectrometry;
Philips Technical Library; Springer-Verlag,
New York Inc.; New York, 1967.
- Bertin, E.P.; Principles and Practice of X-ray Spectrometric Analysis; Plenum Press; New York, 1975.
- Dean, J.A. and T.C. Rains; Flame Emission and Atomic Absorption Spectrometry, Vol. 1-3; Marcel Decker Inc.; New York, 1975.
- * Kirkbright, G.F. and M. Sargent; Atomic Absorption and Fluorescence Spectroscopy, 2nd ed.; Academic Press Inc.; New York, 1975.
- Price, W.J.; Spectrochemical Analysis by Atomic Absorption, 2nd ed.; Heydell & Son Ltd.: London, 1979.
- Tertian, R. and F. Claisse; Principles of Quantitative X-ray Fluores cence Analysis; Heyden & Son Ltd., - London, 1982.
- Thompson, M. and J.N. Walsh; A Handbook of Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy; Blackie & Son; London, 1983.
- * Willard, H.H., L.L. Merritt and J.A. Dean, F.A. Settle; Instrumental Methods of Analysis, 7th ed.; D. Van Nostrand Co., New York, 1988.
- * Skoog, D.A, Holler and Nieman; Principles of Instrumental Analysis, 5th ed.; Saunders college publishing, Fort Worth Tex, 1999.
- Ron Jenkins, R.W. Gould, Quantitative x-ray spectrometry, 1981
- Ron Jenkins, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, 1999
- Douglas A. Skoog, F. James Holler, Principles of instrumental analysis, 1998
- Joachim Nolte, ICP emission spectrometry, 2003
- Ross Willoughby, Edward Sheehan, Samuel Mitrovich, A global view of LC/MS : how to solve your most challenging analytical problems Pittsburgh, Pa. : Global View Publ., 2002
- Barbara H. Stuart., Infrared spectroscopy : fundamentals and applications, Chichester, West Sussex, England ; Hoboken, NJ : J. Wiley 2004
- Akbar Montaser and D.W. Golightly, Inductively coupled plasmas in analytical atomic spectrometry, 1992
- Bernhard Welz, Michael Sperling., Atomic absorption spectrometry, New York : Weinheim Wiley-VCH, 1999
- Gerhard schlemmer, Vernard Radziuk, Analytical graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry, 1999
- Hans-Joachim Hubschmann, Handbook of GC/MS: fundamentals and applications, 2001
- Edmond de Hoffmann and Vincent Stroobant, Mass spectrometry: principles and applications, JOHN WILEY & SONS, LTD, 2001
- Jose A.C. Broekaert, Analytical atomic spectrometry with flames and plasmas, 2001
- Jurgen H. Gross, Mass spectrometry, 2004
- R. Martin Smith., Understanding mass spectra: a basic approach, 2004
- K. Downard, Mass spectrometry: a foundation course, 2004
- Joachim Nolte., ICP emission spectrometry : a practical guide,Weinheim [Germany] : Wiley-VCH, 2003
- Roger S. Macomber., A complete introduction to modern NMR spectroscopy, New York : Wiley, 1998
- Barbara H. Stuart, Infrared spectroscopy, 2004
- # Dolezal, J., P. Povondra and Z. Sulcek; Decomposition Techniques in Inorganic Analysis; American Elsevier; New York, 1989.
- Reeves, R.D. and R.R. Brooks, Trace Element Analysis of Geological Materials; John Wiley & Sons /Inc.; New York, 1978.
- Bock, R.; Decomposition Methods in Analytical Chemistry; Halsted Press; John Wiley & Sons Inc.; New York, 1979.
- Young, R.S.; Separation Procedures in Inorganic Analysis; Charles Griffin & Co. Ltd. London, 1980.
- Fletcher, W.K.; Analytical Methods in Geochemical Prospecting; Elsevier Scientific publishing Co.; New York, 1981.
- Jeffery, P. G. and D. Hutchison; Chemical Methods of Rock Analysis, 3rd ed.; Pergamon Press Ltd.; Oxford, 1981.
- * Johnson, W.M. and J.A. Maxwell; Rock and Mineral Analysis, 2nd ed.; Wiley-lnterscience; New York, 1981.
- Donaldson, E.M.; Methods for the Analysis of Ores, Rocks and Related Materials, 2nd ed.; CANMET Monograph 881 (1982).
- Potts, P.J.; A Handbook of Silicate Rock Analysis, 2nd ed.; Blackie & Sons Ltd.; Glasgow, 1987.
- * Bassett, J., R.C. Denney, G.H. Jeffery and J. Mendham; Vogel's Textbook of Quantitative Inorganic Analysis, 5th ed.; Longman Group Ltd.; London, 1989.
- # * Skoog, D.A., D.M. West and F.J. Holler; Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, Holt RisIehart and Winston; New York, 2004.
- Elsie M. Donaldson, Methods for the Analysis of Ores, Rocks and Related Materials, 1982
- Lesley Smart, Separation, purification and identification, 2002
- Philip A. Baedecker, Methods for geochemical analysis, 1987
- J. Minczewski, J. Chwastowska, R. Dybczynski ; translation editor, Mary R. Masson, Separation and preconcentration methods in inorganic trace analysis, Chichester, West Sussex : E. Horwood ; New York : Halsted Press, 1982
- Robin Gill, Modern analytical geochemistry : an introduction to quantitative chemical analysis techniques for earth, environmental and materials scientists, Harlow : Longman, 1997
- A.G. Howard and P. J. Slatharn, Inorganic trace analysis, JOHN WILEY & SONS, 1993
- Chiranjib Kumar Gupta, Chemical Metallurgy, Wiley-VCH, 2003
- Eckscinager, K.; Errors, Measurements and Results in Chemical Analysis; Van Nostrand Reinhold, London, 1969.
- Bauer, E.L.; A Statistical Manual for Chemists; Academic Press New York, 1971.
- * Gy, P.M.- Sampling of Particulate Materials, Theory and Practice; Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co. - New York, 1979.
- * Smith, R. and G.V. James; The Sampling of Bulk Materials; 771e Royal Society of Chemistry London, 1981.
- Miller, J.C. and J.N. Miller; Statistics for Analytical Chemistry, 2nd ed.; Wiley- Chichester, 1988.
- * Gy, P.; Sampling for Analytical Purposes; John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1998.
- Francis F. Pitard, 2nd edition, Pierre Gy’s Sampling Theory and Sampling Practice, 1993
- Ernest A. Smith, 2nd edition, The Sampling and Assay of the Precious Metals, 1947
- Triola, Mario F. 2nd Canadian ed. Elementary statistics 1999.
- Rao, Poduri S.R.S. Sampling methodologies : with applications, 2000
- William Mendenhall, Robert J. Beaver, Barbara M. Beaver, 11th ed, Introduction to probability and statistics, Pacific Grove, CA : Thomson-Brooks/Cole, 2003
- Freeman, N.T. and J. Whitehead; Introduction to Safety in the Chemical Laboratory; Academic Press, - London, 1982.
- # Bretherick, L., Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory, 5th ed.; Royal Society of Chemistry; London, 1992.
- Weiss, G.; Hazardous Chemical Data Book, 2nd ed.; Noyes Publications; New Jersey, 1986.
- Hall, Stephen K; Chemical Safety in Laboratory; Boca Paton, Fl, 1994.
- Workers’ Compensation Board; WHMIS Handbook.
- Jay A. Young, Improving safety in the chemical laboratory : a practical guide, John Wiley & Sons, : New York : 1991
- Dux, J.P.; Handbook of Quality Assurance for the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, 2nd ed.; Van Nostrand Reinhold; New York, 1990.
- Mesley, R.J., W.D. Pocklington and R.F. Walker (1991); Analytical Quality Assurance - A Review; The Analyst; October, Vol. 116, No. 10, pages 975-990.
- ISO Guide 25 “General Requirements for the Competence of Calibratio n and Testing laboratories”; International Organization for Standardization: Geneva, 1990.
- Kateman, G.; Buydens, L.; Quality Control in Analytical Chemistry, 2nd ed., Wiley: New York, 1993.
- Frederick M. Garfield, Eugene Klesta, Jerry Hirsch, Quality assurance principles for analytical laboratories, Gaithersburg, MD: AOAC International, 2000
- Dale H. Besterfield, Quality control, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001
* Denotes books from which exam questions are taken.