A simple example of how reference materials are used is as follows. They are placed in the middle of a stream of similar samples being submitted for assay. The reference materials should report results within set confidence limits. Their results are used as a check of the overall accuracy and precision of results in the final database or resource calculation. They will also verify that other individual assays match the correct samples in a batch.
This is one of the ways assay laboratory quality control and quality assurance is managed. It is also a standard auditing procedure to check on the efficiency of mine sampling procedures and metallurgical processes and, it is one of the things an exploration manager has to do to generate a bankable mineral resource.
The bankability of mineral resources is especially important. Audit trails are needed when due diligences or reviews are undertaken on a mine or exploration project. These happen when money is being raised or if the project is being sold or, simply if production and metallurgical process efficiencies are being audited as a management check. Audit trails provide a high degree of assurance (to share holders, financial institutions, exploration project management and mine management) that mine or exploration sampling meets the standards required by best practice and by the compliance codes for stock exchanges around the world (NI 43-101, SAMREC, JORC etc).