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Second World Conference on Sampling and Blending
The Second World Conference on Sampling and Blending (WCSB2) was held at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane, Australia, on 10-12 May 2005. It followed the very successful First World Conference on Sampling and Blending (WCSB1) held in Esbjerg, Denmark, in August 2003 in honour of Dr Pierre Gy and his monumental contribution to the theory and practice of sampling.
More than 130 delegates from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, UK and USA attended WCSB2 and the conference was a great success. While delegates were promised a stunning tropical environment for the conference, what was not anticipated was unseasonal 'tropical' rain for much of the week, although on the positive side this probably bolstered attendance at the technical sessions and certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm, technical debate and networking during the conference. The conference met its objective of bringing together consultants, managers, sampling and quality control staff, researchers, engineers and manufacturers from around the world involved in the theory and practice of sampling and blending over a wide range of areas, including the minerals industry, agriculture and the environment.
Unfortunately, Pierre Gy was unable to travel to Australia to attend WCSB2, so the conference was opened by Prof Kim Esbensen from Aalborg University in Denmark, who chaired WCSB1 held in Denmark in August 2003. He conveyed Pierre Gy’s best wishes for the success of the conference and arranged for a copy of the conference proceedings to be signed by as many delegates as possible as a souvenir of WCSB2 for Pierre Gy. The first technical paper was presented by Francis Pitard (Francis Pitard Sampling Consultants) and was entitled “Sampling correctness - A comprehensive guideline”, a very appropriate beginning to a sampling conference. This was followed by a fascinating paper presented by Claudia Paoletti from the Biotechnology and GMOs Unit of the European Commission on sampling guidelines for detecting the presence of genetically modified organisms in grain and seed lots, a key challenge being to ensure a high degree of confidence in the results of sampling surveys.
Following the opening session, Ralph Holmes (CSIRO) presented a paper on the design of mechanical sampling plants and the need to get the design right first time to avoid expensive modifications to incorrectly designed sample plants. This was followed by papers by Jim Docherty (CASCO) on procedures for routine inspection of sample plants to confirm correct performance and by Dominique François-Bongarçon (AGORATEK) on sample cutter design.
In the afternoon a number of case studies were presented by Pedro Carrasco (Codelco), Hans Langenhoven (De Beers) and Christian Lantuéjoul (Ecoles des Mines) on characterisation of the heterogeneity of some Chilean porphyry ores, the application of Gy’s formula at Snap Lake in Canada and the sampling of highly dispersed mineralisation respectively. The first day’s technical sessions concluded with a foray into multivariate sampling theory by Kim Esbensen and two papers on alternative methods for estimating sampling variance presented by Pentti Minkkinen (Lappeenranta University of Technology) and Dominique François-Bongarçon.
In the evening, delegates enjoyed an Australiana BBQ sponsored by Rocklabs, which had to be held indoors due to the threat of rain. A highlight of the evening was an exhibition of traditional dances and didgeridoo playing by a local Aboriginal group.
The second day commenced with a thought-provoking presentation by Geoff Robinson (CSIRO) on the application of granular flow modelling to the investigation of possible bias in sample cutters, which, together with high-speed video shots of actual sample cutters, raised a number of doubts about current sample cutter design criteria. Cases studies on sampling coarse gold-bearing mineralisation in Greenland by Simon Dominy (Snowden) and uncertainties in sampling contaminated soil in Sweden by Bjorn Gustavsson (Lulea University of Technology) followed, a key observation being the large variance of soil contaminants and the extreme difficultly of collecting representative samples.
The session before lunch comprised two papers on metallurgical accounting and ways of reducing estimation variance, which were presented by Geoff Lyman (Materials Sampling and Consulting) and Phil Guerney (JK Tech). A paper on modelling the liberation factor and its calibration was also presented by Dominique François-Bongarçon.
After lunch, Garry Johansen (Bendigo Mining) outlined the sampling and assay protocols at the New Bendigo Gold project, while Bastiaan Geelhoed presented a paper on the generalisation of Gy’s model for the fundamental sampling error and Thaung Lwin (CSIRO) spoke about the uncertainty in the uncertainty in material sampling. The final session of the day was a forum chaired by Ralph Holmes, where Denis Thirouin from the International Sampling Institute in France tabled a discussion paper on the need for development of comprehensive guidelines for “Good Sampling Practices”. It was agreed that more needed to be done to emphasise the importance of sampling, including preparation of a manual on good sampling practices, collection of case studies on financial losses due to poor sampling practices and an increase in the number of University courses on sampling. A sampling equivalent to the JORC code was also suggested. The afternoon session concluded with the election of the WCSB Board for organisation of the next conference (WCSB3) followed by a poster session while the new Board retired to discuss the timing and venue for WCSB3.
The Conference Dinner in the evening was sponsored by Anglo Coal and was held at Lily’s Restaurant on the lagoon, which has spectacular views back across the water towards the Twin Waters resort. A great time was had by all. At the dinner, Ralph Holmes formally handed over the baton (a boomerang) to Dr João Costa from the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul in Brazil, who will be the Chair of WCSB3 to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in October 2007.
The final day of the conference commenced with papers presented by Geoff Smart (Newcrest Mining) on alternative drawpoint sampling at the Ridgeway mine, Harry Fishman (Comlabs) on sampling and blending to optimise revenue and Geoff Robinson on economic justifications for capital expenditure on sampling and blending. In the final session of the conference, both João Costa and Henri Sans (Omega Geo-Consulting) illustrated the use of variograms for estimating sampling errors, while Peter Mortensen (Novozymes) discussed the application of sampling theory to image analysis for particle characterisation.
In summary, the conference was a great success despite the unseasonal tropical rain. Delegates who were able to stay on for a few days after the conference had the opportunity to see the Sunshine Coast at its best. I would like to thank the organising committee (Jim Docherty, Antonia Riley, Geoff Robinson and John Vann), authors, presenters and reviewers for their hard work in ensuring the success of the conference. The fantastic support of the Principal Sponsors BMA and SGS, Anglo Coal (Conference Dinner), Rocklabs (Australiana BBQ) and Snowden (Conference Proceedings), as well as ACIRL, Comlab Systems, Essa Australia, Quality Handling Systems, Ore Research and Exploration, Quantitative Geoscience, IMP Innovative Solutions, AMC Consultants, Casco, Peabody and UDR Sampling Systems is gratefully acknowledged. Finally, I would like to thank Miriam Way, Alison McKenzie and Angie Spry from The AusIMM.
R J Holmes, Chairman - WCSB2 Organising Committee, Ralph.Holmes@csiro.au
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