Bulk Sampling: An Introduction

Bulk Sampling: An Introduction

Areas of Study: Exploration and Geology

Qualifies for CMS

This course provides a comprehensive treatment of bulk sampling, including it's application in a project exploration / evaluation context, the nugget effect and other statistical issues, planning a bulk sampling program, grade verification and metallurgical testing.


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  • Audience Level:
  • Professional
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 12 hours

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Certification is optional. Enrollment is required for Certification.

  • Fee for Certification:
  • Not Available
  • Completion:
  • 24 days
  • CEUs:
  • 1.2 (12 PDHs)

Course Summary


Bulk sampling, the costly process of taking very large samples, is part of the general procedure for the exploration and evaluation of a mineral deposit.

Often the bulk sample will be a composite of material from development drifts and raises. Ideally, drift rounds or other portions should be selected from geological mapping and prior sampling, handled separately, and should be stored temporarily on a pad for sampling if not directly processed. The bulk sample will consist of these components and will take into account the geological continuities. The appropriateness of the bulk sample will be related to its source, to the variability of the deposit, to the deposit morphology, and to anticipated problems.

The final objective is to obtain the quantitative information required for the quantitative evaluation of the deposit in a formal feasibility study; the objective is a production decision that leads to a profitable operation. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the topic, including the application of bulk sampling in a project exploration / evaluation context, the nugget effect and other statistical issues, planning a bulk sampling program, grade verification and metallurgical testing.


The course comprises 14 viewing sessions at both summary and text level, plus multiple-choice reviews, worked examples and exercises, and a comprehensive glossary. Course duration is equivalent to 12 hours of study content.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the application and objectives of bulk sampling techniques in the exploration and evaluation of mineral deposits.
  • Recognize the nugget effect and its impact on grade variability.
  • Identify and apply the methods and techniques that aid in optimizing sampling procedures and reducing sampling errors.
  • Identify and apply the unit volume approach to bulk sampling.
  • Plan a bulk sampling program in terms of sample size, grade variability and sample storage, treatment, monitoring and feedback of results.
  • Apply bulk sampling procedures for the objectives of grade verification or metallurgical testing.

Recommended Background

  • A degree in geology, metallurgy, mining or related discipline.
  • An understanding of the basic principles and methods of statistics.

Dr. Alastair J. Sinclair

Alastair J. Sinclair obtained his B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. degrees in geological engineering from the University of Toronto (1957 and 1958) and a Ph.D. in Economic Geology from the University of British Columbia (1964). From 1962 to 1964 he taught in the Dept. of Geology, University of Washington, Seattle; and from 1964 to 1998 taught at the University of British Columbia.

In addition to teaching at UBC he was Head of the Department of Geological Sciences (1985-1990) and Director of Geological Engineering (1991-1998). He is presently Professor Emeritus in geological engineering at the University of British Columbia. For many years he taught courses in Economic Geology, Mineral Inventory Estimation and Mineralography and Ore Microscopy. His research activities have focused on Mineral Exploration Data Analysis, Resource Estimation of Mineral Deposits and Quality Control Aspects of Resource Evaluation.

He has presented a wide range of short courses for mining companies and professional organizations and has consulted widely for the international mining industry; he continues to be active in these fields.