Reference materials have always been used for assay lab quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) but their use has increased and been more prominent following tightening of various codes, legislation and regulations worldwide for the recording and reporting of mineral resources and reserves. This followed several prominent poor corporate governance and fraud cases. South African and Canadian stock exchange rules actually specify QA/QC from exploration through to the mineral resouce statement. It will also be required for an independent sign-off of exploration data or a mineral resource. They have become necessary since SOX for mining company internal audit procedures. Although corporate compliance requirements still fall short of what has become best practice or what is necessary.
There is little doubt, that in the competition for investment money, especially in a high risk industry like exploration and mining, the company with the best set of books will attract the best premium. While audit trails and quality assurance are a very small part of the business, they are an important cornerstone.