THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS
In order to obtain Accreditation, an analyst must participate in one of the ICCP's periodic exercises involving the petrographic analysis of samples. Entering a program requires the analysis of a set of samples (6 in the case of SCAP and DOMVR and 2 blends in the case of CBAP) which are selected from a pool of samples supplied by members to the Co-ordinator of each program and cover a wide range of age, type and rank. The identity of the samples used is not revealed and the samples are given a code known only to the Co-ordinator. Data submitted by each petrographer are assessed as outlined in Statistical Evaluation in Detail. If the statistical criteria are satisfied, then the petrographer is awarded Accreditation in the ICCP?s corresponding Accreditation Program. For SCAP and DOMVR, two samples are analysed in successive Accreditation exercises and for CBAP one blend. Samples are provided to participants as either prepared grain mounts or as samples to an appropriate size with a minimum of fines. The use of granular samples incorporates a test of preparation techniques as well as analytical techniques.
Preparation and polish of the mounted and unmounted samples, and the random reflectance and maceral group analyses are performed according to ISO Standards 7404-2, -3 and -5 or as close as possible to ISO standards for DOMVR. Additional and unambiguous instructions as to the performance of the analyses and reporting of the results are provided.
At the conclusion of an accreditation exercise, the results from all participating petrographers are pooled and the participating petrographers are notified of their level of concordance with limits established by the pooled values. The identities of petrographers and affiliations are not made public, and confidentiality of reported results is strictly maintained. Laboratories may, however, wish to advertise their Accreditation Program status once their analysts have received Accreditation Certification, but they must quote the name of the analyst, their certificate number and certificate expiry date on all laboratory petrographic reports. In addition, the ICCP keeps an accurate register of Accreditation Certificate recipients and their laboratories, and this is shown on its Internet site (see Accredited Petrographers).
Petrographers who are not accredited in an exercise, are expected to analyse another set of six samples or two blends in the case of CBAP and these may or may not be selected from the original pool of samples. The results from the new set of analyses will form the basis of the statistical evaluation for the analyst and future petrographic results are added to this data set. If the petrographer fails to achieve Accreditation based on this new set of analyses, the Co-ordinator will arrange for additional tests to be performed by the petrographer with the objective of obtaining improved concordance. This may involve analyses using photomicrographs in the case of maceral group analysis, or vitrinite concentrate samples or well calibrated sets of reflectance standards in the case of vitrinite random reflectance analysis.
As additional petrographers participate in the Accreditation Program and are successful in the accreditation exercises, the pooled mean values and pooled standard deviations may change over time. Where analyses from earlier years are used in calculating statistics, the pooled means and pooled standard deviations from the year in which the analyst made the determination are used in the calculations.
Inexperienced petrographers are encouraged to undertake initial analyses of ICCP samples with which they would be expected to achieve an acceptable level of proficiency, before participating in an accreditation exercise.
A formal appeal process has been established to enable petrographers or laboratories to appeal any decision(s) made against them by the Accreditation Sub-Committee. Appeals are forwarded to a Review Panel for independent assessment and comment.
The current ICCP Accreditation Programs follow a similar overall approach but have some characteristics specific to each program that are related to the properties of the samples associated with them. The type of samples and the parameters evaluated are separately described.
- Single Coal Accreditation Program (SCAP) for both maceral group and vitrinite random reflectance analyses
- Dispersed Organic Matter Vitrinite Reflectance Accreditation Program (DOMVR)
- Coal Blends Accreditation Program (CBAP)
The costs for entering and continuing the ICCP accreditation programs agreed at the Oviedo Meeting (2008) expressed in Euros are listed below. ICCP also offers a discount of 10 % off in each program for those participating in two accreditation programs and 20% off in each program for those participating in the three programs.
ISO 7404-2, 2009. Methods for the Petrographic Analysis of Coals — Part 2: Methods of Preparing Coal Samples. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland. 12 pp.
ISO 7404-3, 2009. Methods for the Petrographic Analysis of Coals—Part 3: Method of Determining Maceral Group Composition. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland. 7 pp.
ISO 7404-5, 2009. Methods for the Petrographic Analysis of Coal—Part 5: Methods of Determining Microscopically the Reflectance of Vitrinite. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland. 14 pp.
Note: the SCAP and CBAP relate directly to the ISO standards listed. In the case of the vitrinite reflectance on dispersed organic matter (DOMVR) program, the ISO standards are not directly relevant but should be used as a guide.