Increased uptake of PT schemes

Qotho Laboratory Services recognises that laboratories are implementing ISO 17025 – the laboratory equivalent of the ISO 9000 quality management certification

ACCREDITATION DRIVE Qotho Laboratory Services recognises that laboratories are implementing ISO 17025 – the laboratory equivalent of the ISO 9000 quality management certification

Photo by Bloomberg

28th November 2014

By: Mia Breytenbach

Creamer Media Deputy Editor: Features


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Coupled with year-on-year growth for mining laboratory quality-control services provider Qotho Laboratory Services, market uptake of the company’s interlaboratory proficiency testing (PT) schemes for various commodities has been quick over the past 12 months, says MD Hannelie de Beer.

“Qotho is certainly experiencing a demand increase for its services, owing to increased activity in the mining industry, as well as new and expansion projects being approved and implemented,” says De Beer, adding that Qotho’s service offering includes, but is not limited to, copper, nickel, iron-ore, manganese and chrome PT schemes.

The company, a subsidiary of mining industry-focused turnkey laboratory solutions provider Tramecon, aims to establish gold and platinum-group metals laboratory PT schemes by year-end, provided that enough laboratories are interested and willing to participate – which, at present, looks promising, says De Beer.

The PT schemes involve providing mineral samples, which are milled, crushed and homogenised, for participating laboratories. They test and analyse the ore and/or concentrate samples and provide Qotho with reports on their methods and results, which then uses statistical techniques and Prolab Plus statistical software – supplied by software developer QuoData – to analyse the results and performance of participating laboratories.

Current PT scheme participants include all laboratories from most major mining companies, such as diversified miners Glencore, Assmang, African Rainbow Minerals and BHP Billiton, as well as commercial laboratories such as Setpoint, ALS and AHK.

Qotho’s PT schemes assist clients in benchmarking their laboratories’ performance against the performance of other laboratories, which provides mining companies with a performance barometer, says De Beer.

“With increased pressure on commodity prices, compounded by mineral processing costs, it has become key for operations to capitalise on favourable recoveries and enhance product grade. This can be achieved only if they obtain accurate results from their laboratories,” she notes.

As a result, De Beer recognises a trend among commercial laboratories, as well as local mine facilities, to become accredited. She reiterates the sentiments of Qotho technical director Nhlanhla Mamba, who told Mining Weekly in October that “it is imperative for laboratories to implement the laboratory equivalent of the ISO 9000 quality management certification – ISO 17025 – to enhance their credibility”.

Mamba told Mining Weekly that implementing ISO 17025 will convince geologists and metallurgists of the accuracy and validity of laboratory results, which would subsequently lead to improved financial growth for mining companies and minerals laboratories in the long term.

De Beer notes that parent company Tramecon has also been successful in providing turnkey analytical laboratory solutions for new projects in Africa and abroad, assisting with plant and process control. The company provided laboratory supplies to Zambian mines in September, and installed a multimillion-rand container laboratory at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) Kinsenda copper mine, in Katanga province, last month.

“The more efficiently a laboratory can operate, the more productive staff will be, which will result in production cost savings for the client. However, it is important that Tramecon ensures that these technologies and solutions are suitable for the mineral and metallurgical characteristics of mining companies’ specific orebodies by assisting the companies in choosing the appropriate equipment and procedures.”

She concludes that, by assisting clients with the design and implementation of their quality controls and systems, mining companies are ensured of more accurate results and can, therefore, make more cost-effective decisions regarding their processes.

Edited by Samantha Herbst
Creamer Media Deputy Editor



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