With the mining industry dealing with a backlog of sending their samples to labs for test results over the past year, some companies are turning to Mobile Sample Preparation Units as a solution, with SGS’ MSPU offering coming to the fore.
The turnaround times associated with sampling are especially important in the early stages of exploration for companies requiring reliable testing data in real time to make important investment decisions to advance their projects.
Matador Mining realised that there were issues in addressing the realities of exploring in remote areas like its Cape Ray project in an isolated area of Newfoundland, Canada, SGS said.
In April 2021, SGS started working with Matador Mining to build a Mobile Sample Preparation Unit (MSPU) in one of the most remote areas of Newfoundland. Sitting on the edge of the ocean in Port-aux-Basques, many were sceptical about the feasibility of building a lab there, SGS said. The site is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Deer Lake and the closest regional airport linking to the rest of Canada.
Cindy Collins, Director of Sales and Business – Geochemistry SGS Natural Resources, said: “The goal of the project was to find a way to more easily execute the testing that Matador Mining needed while staying mindful of the possibilities and problems associated with a location as remote as this one. We felt that if we could come up with a mobile lab, then we could staff it with local talent and replicate it across the world.”
Collins says there are great benefits from MSPUs when it comes to sustainability. Instead of building bricks and mortar, the mobile unit runs on its own power and prepares samples for on-site analysis.
Having their data faster allows clients to continue or even modify drill program strategies based on data they’ve already received. Once the program is finished, the MSPU is transported by truck to its next client, SGS explained.
A year later, the MSPU (lab) provides an excellent case study for exploration companies around the world about what is possible. Instead of having to ship 100,000, 3-5 kg samples across the country to its analytical facility in Burnaby, British Colombia, only 250 grams per sample are sent while the remaining materials remain with Matador on site in Newfoundland. This means major carbon footprint reduction and cuts to CO2 emissions and points to the kind of positive mitigating effect on sustainability that investors and stakeholders are demanding, SGS said, in addition to tangible action and accountability when it comes to corporate social responsibility.
Collins is optimistic for the future of the MSPU, saying that the company has three units in Canada and several globally.
“By my projections we should have several more across the continent by next field season with more to be commissioned this year,” she said. “And, for context, since 2004, we have had 35 MSPUs in places like PNG, Peru, Congo, West Africa, Mexico and Kazakhstan. Since 2011, there are about 20 active MSPUs across the globe.”