Proficiency Testing is a voluntary scheme designed for all GDL refiners to help improve their assaying accuracy against a large group of their peers.
It is generally expected that refiners' laboratories will already be using well-established, validated methods of assaying, as well as their own quality control procedures. Proficiency Testing (PT) provides an important layer of external quality control to help validate these internal procedures.
The sixth annual Proficiency Testing (PT) Scheme in 2017 included silver for the first time and 58 LBMA accredited gold and silver refiners participated (33 gold and silver, 13 gold only and 12 silver only). In addition, 10 non-Good Delivery companies were also given the opportunity to participate for the third time, seven of which participated for both gold and silver. This again provided an excellent consensus for the scheme; the more that participate, the more robust the results.
How does PT differ from Proactive Monitoring?
- PT is voluntary, whereas PAM is mandatory for all currently accredited refiners.
- PT is run annually, whereas the PAM is run over a three-year cycle.
- PT involves a refiner’s laboratory assaying a single piece of gold and/or silver and submitting the results not to the LBMA, but to the facilitator – in this case FAPAS. PAM goes wider than just assay testing: it involves production and financial tests.
- PT is anonymous. The LBMA does not receive any information on the identity of the labs participating in the scheme. FAPAS assign a code to each lab, and only each individual participant knows their code but not those of the other participants.
- PT results are published in a report. Whilst the identities of each lab are kept anonymous, it does give an opportunity for each participant to compare their results against those of the other participants involved in the scheme.
- PT is really designed for participants to test the assay in their normal testing environment, i.e. it is not expected that they do anything that they wouldn’t normally do. With PAM, however, it is expected that labs would make extra special efforts to achieve assaying accuracy.
Jonathan Jodry delivered a presentation on the Proficiency Testing Scheme at the most recent biennial Assay and Refining Conference on 20-21 March, 2017. His presentation is available here on the LBMA website.