SC Meeting in Geneva

Geneva (5 April 2017): The 80th SC meeting took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 30 March 2017 under the chairmanship of Ms. Dalia Yarom (Israel).  The meeting was attended by 39 officials representing 17 out of 19 Contracting States (Austria and the Netherlands were not represented) and 3 out of 5 Applicant States (Serbia and Ukraine did not attend).

The meeting focused on mainly technical issues, in particular the revision of the Convention's Technical Annexes and the related Compilation of Technical Decisions. The following issues were discussed by the SC: 

- Intermediate base metal layers 
The SC reviewed the outcome of a Convention-internal survey on intermediate base metal layers in precious metal articles.  The survey showed substantial differences in the acceptance of such layers by the 19 Contracting States.  The SC followed the recommendation made by the Standing Technical Group (STG) and decided not to allow such layers in principle under the Convention.  Practical exceptions based on technical reasons may, however, be considered in the future.

- Delegation of testing
The SC endorsed in principle a proposal by the STG to allow Convention's Assay Offices to delegate their testing competence to other Convention's Assay Offices, subject to a number of conditions.  This delegation is particularly sensible for the testing of palladium or platinum articles, for which there is not much demand.  The Norwegian Assay Office was invited to table an alternative wording regarding the number of articles to be considered in order to determine whether an Assay Office can delegate its competence.

- Accreditation
The SC reviewed the outcome of a Convention-internal survey on the cost of accreditation as well as a proposal by the STG to make accreditation to ISO 17025 a compulsory requirement under the Convention.  However, this was not unanimously supported.  As a result, the STG was invited to re-discuss the issue and come up with alternative proposals.

- XRF testing
The SC endorsed in principle an amendment to the conditions related to the acceptance of XRF as a testing method (not to be mixed up with XRF screening), taking into consideration the measurement of uncertainty.  The STG was invited to complete the drafting of Guidelines on XRF testing, which will specify the conditions under which XRF testing can be used under the Convention.

- New CCM
The SC agreed that in order to be used as a 0.5mm mark, the new standardised Common Control Mark (CCM), to be introduced in parallel to the exiting CCM marks, needed to remain simple.  The Secretariat was asked to present possible options in time for the next meeting.

The SC reviewed the accession of Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and the Ukraine.

- Both Croatia and Serbia (not attending) are in the process of ratifying the Convention. 

- Regarding the accession of Italy, the SC was informed that the Czech Republic and Italy had agreed in principle on a visit by a Czech Delegation to the Italian laboratory of Vicenza.  The SC invited both parties to agree on a date in order for the visit to take place in the next 2 months, thus allowing the Czech Republic to possibly reconsider its objection to Italy's accession in time for the next SC meeting.

- There are some signs that Ukraine (not attending) will resume its accession process to the Convention.  

- Regarding Sri Lanka, the SC requested the STG to propose a technical expert to carry out a follow-up inspection to Sri Lanka.  

The Depositary (not attending) informed Contracting States on changes regarding the Assay Office marks of Ireland and the authorised Assay Office of WaarborgHolland in the Netherlands.  

The Working Group on Vision and Strategy (WGVS) briefed Members on the 3rd meeting (held in Larnaca, Cyprus, on 27 September 2016) and its discussions on the SWOT analysis (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats).  A 4th meeting took place on 31 March 2017 in Geneva.

The Standing Technical Group (STG) reported on its 20th meeting held in Geneva on 16 January 2017.  A new STG Deputy Chairman was elected in the person of Mr Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia).  The STG reviewed proposals regarding the amendment of the Convention's Annexes and related Technical Decisions.  It discussed a number of investigations and corrective action taken by Assay Offices, which exceeded permissible limits during the last interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals (Round Robin - RR).  These investigations were tabled to the SC for information.  The STG also reviewed comments made by the SC on the revision of the RR Guidelines and integrated those deemed compatible with the aim of the revision.  At the SC meeting, the Polish Assay Offices requested that an exemption be made for Assay Offices, which do not use XRF. The revision of the Guidelines was thus sent back to the STG.  The STG also reviewed draft guidelines on CCM software, which were shared with the SC for comments.

The SC discussed two cases regarding "Assaying and Marking Practice" (AMP).  It noted that statistics on articles marked with the Common Control Mark (CCM) in 2016 had increased by 3.8%.

The next SC meeting will take place in Porto (Portugal) on 23 October 2017.