Armando Simon and Greg Gosson, both of AMEC, writing in the Sep/Oct 2007 CIM Magazine on quality control reporting requirements by the mining industry, note (I edit–so if you do not believe me, please see the original):

AMEC’s experience with numerous recent audits and due diligence studies….indicate that comprehensive geological quality control programs are still infrequent. Out of 26 projects….only four had established QA/QC programs…..recent review of industry QA/QC practices in NI 43-101 technical reports…AMEC could not find relevant details on QA/QC programs in half the consulted SEDAR-filed technical reports.

They write that AMEC has direct experience of “deceptive practices” by laboratories considered to be “professional.” These are the labs providing data that underpins the NI 43-101 report that you rely on to make considered investments.

Keep in mind that the many documents that give rise to a NI 43-101 report ask for reporting on and opinions about QA/QC programs. As Simon and Gosson note: Item 15 relates to quality control of sample preparation, analyses, and security. Item 16 re Data Verification says: include a discussion of quality control measures and data verification procedures applied.

Here aretwo statements that supposedly implement this requirement.

Based on operating results and historical descriptions, it appears that the sampling, sample preparation, assaying, and security of samples were conducted in an industry acceptable manner for the time period in which the samples were collected and processed, and it is the geological Qualified Person’s opinion that the assays are suitable for mineral resource estimation.

While exercising all reasonable diligence in checking, confirming and testing it, [qualified person]has relied upon [owning company’s] presentation of the project data from previous operators for the [named] property in formulating [qualified person’s] opinion.

Then there is this abstract that illustrates just how far behind the curve the two above are:

From April 1 2006, other external QA/QC measures have progressively been applied to most aspect of the exploration program: an AcQuire database was set up for direct entry logging by the geologists. Logging forms have predefined pick lists for codification of the geological descriptions and built-in validation to minimize wrong entries. A manual that documents data entry procedures was also completed for the geologists in order to have consistent logging among them. Core library and posters are available for geologists in training which are also tutored by a more experienced geologist until proficiency is attained. Samples shipment and tracking is also handled through AcQuire. Procedures for borehole collars surveying was also modified to include paper tracking of final collar surveys that must be signed by the surveyor. Direct download from the GPS raw data files was also set up in AcQuire as well as for Flex-It downhole surveys.

But I submit that even this is totally inadequate. My background and my perspective is admittedly formed by the many years I worked on projects involving radioactive mine tailings and hazardous wastes. The Quality Officer on every program was king/queen. An audit by such a person was a time of fear followed inevitably by changed procedures.

What I now read in NI 43-101 reports about quality control and quality auditing is silly grubbing around in the dirt outside the lab. If the NI 43-101 report is to have any validity and the process is to preclude future Bre-X and Southwestern Resources, then a sea change isnecessary. Simon and Gosson have spied the need, but like me, still do not launch the ship. Maybe it needs a triple storm of fraud, loss, and investor anger to do that.