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MEI Online: Analytical Techniques & Applied Mineralogy: Latest News: June 24th 2009


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:: New Fire Assay Lab Opens in Sudbury

Business is heating up for SPJ Labs, Sudbury’s new fire assay laboratory. The doors officially opened for business March 12th to interested clients seeking fire assay work for their precious metals.

Fire assaying, a sample preparation technique, is an ancient method of extracting precious metals using heat. Sometimes described as an "art," the technique has been around since the time of the Phoenicians and is known to be one of the most reliable methods for determining the amount of gold, silver and platinum group metals from an ore sample.

Co-owned by Jeff Fuller, Peter Larabie and Sav Dagostino, the lab is located at the Fuller Industrial site. Both Larabie and Dagostino, who are on the cusp of retirement, have pooled their resources and expertise to set up and run the business.

Dagostino has more than 30 years of lab sample preparation experience earned at Vale Inco. He calls this new endeavour a "labour of love."

Larabie, senior analyst, boasts more than 30 years of experience working in government labs. He spent 18 years as a bullion processor working for Temiskaming Testing Laboratories and is presently a fire assay technician for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ Geoscience Laboratories.

The two entrepreneurs made the decision to open a lab more than a year ago when the markets were soaring and there was a global demand for assay work. Despite ailing base-metal markets, precious metals are doing well and there is still a strong demand for fire assaying.

Larabie said there are few fire assay labs remaining because about 15 years ago, the trend was to use chemicals. Fire assaying is 100 per cent accurate and takes the product back to a slag, removing hazardous material that is contained and recycled.

"There is no other private fire assay lab in Sudbury that does what we do," Larabie said.

SPJ Labs does gold, silver and lead fire assaying with a silver collection. Presently, they can average 200 samples per day, or 1,000 samples weekly. They describe it as a "good turn-around time." As business increases, they plan to hire more lab technicians. www.spjlabs.com




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