Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
DOMINY, S.C.. Grab sampling for underground gold mine grade control. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2010, vol.110, n.6, pp. 277-287. ISSN 2411-9717.
Geologists in some underground gold mines collect grab samples from broken ore piles or trucks as a method of grade control. It is often known as muck sampling. Generally, the goal of grab sampling is to try and reconcile the mined grade at the ore source to the predicted grade and/or predict the mill feed grade. The mass of the sample collected is limited by health and safety issues, as well as by the capacity of the laboratory to process the samples within a given time frame. In general terms, grab sampling is known to be problematic because samplers tend to oversample the fines, and/or pick out high-grade fragments; surface sampling of piles does not test material within the pile; muck piles in development drives/faces are likely to be zoned due to the blasting sequence; high or lowgrade material may preferentially segregate in the pile during mucking; the five per cent mass reject size of the material in muck piles is very large from underground blasting; some correlation usually exists whereby the larger fragments are enriched or depleted in the critical component of value; and the average error made in estimating the true stockpile grade is likely to be high. The method is prone to chronic fundamental sampling, grouping and segregation, delimitation, and extraction errors. Substantial warnings must be given about the use of grab sampling for grade control in gold mines. The method may appear to work sometimes, which can be attributed to a fine gold particle sizing and more disseminated distribution. As with all sampling methods, its appropriateness must be determined by ore characterization and heterogeneity testing to ensure the method suits the ore type.