Assayers also known as Mineral Analysts or Chemical Laboratory Technicians play a vital role in the mining industry, as they are able to obtain important information form the ore that is mined. Assayers are responsible for analyzing ores, metals and minerals in a laboratory, where they use various methods to identify the properties of these substances and their value. In some instances the Assayer will focus on analyzing samples in order to find specific types of metals.
On other cases the Assayer will be responsible for identifying any types of mineral content in samples; the reason for this is to determine which types of metals may be found in a given area. For these reasons Assays play an extremely important role in the mining and mineral exploration industries.
There are a number of ways that an Assayer will determine the ore and mineral content of a sample. One of these may be by using chemical solutions. These chemicals are able to separate the various metals, and so determine how much of each substance is present. Another technique that Assayers will commonly use is that of heat.
Assayers are typically employed by mining companies in either a permanent role or as an independent consultant. Mining companies will often use the services of an Assayer to determine whether or not an area earmarked as a potential mining site is viable and whether or not they should purchase the site. This helps mining companies tremendously in making decisions as by employing an Assayer a mining company can have some idea as to what lies beneath the ground, before investing huge amounts of money and time into the site.
What type of person would be suited to becoming an Assayer?
- A career as an Assayer would typically be suited to those who enjoy the sciences, and for those that would be comfortable working with equipment in a laboratory
- For those who have a natural interest in geology and chemistry and enjoy identifying minerals, a career as an Assayer would be ideally suited to them
- An Assayer must be able to work under pressure, and be able to take accountability for their work, as the quality and accuracy of the Assayers work can have significant financial ramifications for the company they are working for
- An Assayer would be required to have an analytical mind and an aptitude for the sciences and chemicals
- An Assayer would need to be able to communicate effectively with others
- They need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time and to be able to work on projects that may become routine or monotonous
- They also need to be able to pay a tremendous amount of attention to detail
- Assayers may be required to travel frequently or possibly relocate, so for those that enjoy travel it could be a great profession
What education requirements are required in order to become an Assayer?
The educational requirements vary depending on a number of factors including where in the world one is based, however in order to become an Assayer one would typically need at least a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry or Geology. Completing a degree program that combines both would be ideal.
What would an Assayer be doing on a day to day basis?
- An Assayer would select, specify and perform qualitative and quantitative analysis
- An Assayer may take onsite samples, which would involve visiting different sections of a mine to obtain the samples
- They would prepare reports and submit to management
- They would be responsible for using chemicals or other analytical methods to determine the presence of metals under strict laboratory conditions
- They would perform statistical analysis
- They would be responsible for determining the value of various metals
What are the working conditions of an Assayer?
Assayers will typically be based in a laboratory, however may at times also be based on the mining site. Whilst performing fieldwork an Assayer may be required to crouch or remain standing for long periods, and may also be required to carry heavy equipment. When based in a laboratory they will be required to use specialized equipment and possibly protective clothing and have to ensure that they adhere to strict safety regulations at all times.
Working conditions may vary from pleasant air conditioned laboratories to remote mining sites where the Assayer may be subjected to hot dusty working conditions, which are physical demanding. However the vast majority of Assayers will be based primarily in laboratories.
For those considering a career as an Assayer and who have a passion for the mining industry, a career as an Assayer will provide an opportunity of playing a vital role in the future planning of mines, as well as the opportunity of working with state of the art equipment.