Assayer and Sampler

In the mining industry it is very important that information be obtained on the ore that is mined. It is the responsibility of assayers and samplers to take samples for analysis on a regular basis. 

Assaying and sampling are the processes through which small samples of ore are systematically taken from the rock face and used to determine the nature, quality and quantity of the ore.

The work of samplers is aimed at taking onsite samples, either in open-cast or underground workings of the mine. They visit different sections of the mine on a daily basis to take ore samples. This is a specialised task, since the information obtained from the ore is vital for planning.

Assayers mainly work in laboratories and determine, by means of chemical processes or other analytical methods, the quantity and quality of elements, both organic and inorganic compounds, and intermediate products in ores. They also process materials and analyse base metals, non-metallic materials, concentrates, effluents and air samples.

They use chemical processes such as fire or dry assay procedures and wet chemical methods. The determination of trace elements requires an exceptional degree of accuracy. Analyses are conducted for metallurgical accounting, process control, effluent control, environmental health and quality control.

The results obtained from the work of the assayer and sampler helps organisations or clients to plan current and future operations more efficiently.

Working conditions vary from pleasant air-conditioned laboratories to hot, dusty and physically demanding conditions. Assayers normally work in laboratories, where a clean environment usually prevails. Non-functional gas and dust extraction systems may render the environment dusty and dangerous. For samplers, working in open-cast mine or underground environment, conditions range from wet, noisy and hot rock face surfaces underground to dry, clean air, rock face surfaces of open-cast mines.

Personal Requirements

  • analytical mind
  • aptitude for scientific inquiry
  • responsible and neat
  • systematic and precise
  • interest in metallurgy, chemistry and/or geology
  • good interpersonal skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate (matric), or equivalent with a Bachelor's Degree pass or a Diploma pass
Compulsory Subjects: MathematicsPhysical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: None

In addition, check the university admission requirements to see if you qualify for the programme you want to do.

What to Study

Degree: A BSc with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, along with practical training, can be followed.

Diploma: The N.Dip. Analytical Chemistry is offered at the universities of technology - CPUT, DUT, UJ, TUT and VUT.

In-service training is also provided and diplomas are obtained as studies are completed on a part-time basis. The Chamber of Mines issues this diploma. Theoretical training is done through distance training training must also be completed.


  • mining houses
  • analytical, chemical and commercial laboratories of companies involved in refining and reduction, prospecting, mining, metallurgical and research

Further Information

South African Institute of Valuers 
General Secretary
11 Rynlal Building
320 The Hillside St, 
Lynnwood, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 348-2757

Human Resources Department
AVMIN Limited
P O Box 62379
Marshalltown, 2107

The Senior Personnel Officer - Sourcing
349 Rietkloof
Westonaria, 1779
Tel: (011) 752-1145

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a company employing assayers and samplers
  • make an appointment to speak to an assayer and a sampler about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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