Barite Facts

Barite Facts
Barite is a non-metallic mineral composed of barium sulfate. The name barite comes from the Greek word "barys" which means heavy due to its high specific gravity of 4.5. Though exceptional for a nonmetallic mineral, the high specific gravity allows it to be suitable for a wide range of industrial, medical, and manufacturing uses. Barite serves as the principal ore of barium. Barite can be found in sediments and sedimentary rocks occurring as concretions and void-filling crystals. It is also very common as concretions and vein fillings in limestone and dolostone. The places where limestone and dolostone have been heavily weathered, a large accumulation of barite is often found at the soil-bedrock contact. Several commercial barite mines produce from the residual deposits.
Interesting Barite Facts:
A barite rose is a cluster of bladed barite crystals. They grow in sand and include many sand grains within each crystal.
The barite rose can be several inches in length and can be so abundant in a sandstone, it serves as the "cement" for the rock.
The concretions in sand and sandstone may also include barite. The concretions grow as barite crystallizes within spaces between sand grains.
Barite is commonly found in hydrothermal veins and is a gangue mineral associated with sulfide ore veins.
Barite is associated with ores of antimony, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, and silver. In some locations barite is deposited as a hard siliceous or calcareous deposit at hot springs.
The chemical classification of barite is sulfate, it can be colorless or many other colors including white; or light versions of blue, yellow, red, or green.
Barite streaks white and its luster is vitreous to pearly; its diaphaneity is transparent to translucent; and cleavage is very good, basal and prismatic.
Barite scores between a 2.5 and 3.5 on the Mohs Hardness scale, and has a specific gravity of 4.5, which is unusual for a non-metallic mineral.
The uses of barite include drilling mud, and as a high density filler for paper, plastics, and rubber.
99% of the barite used in the United States is for drilling mud. The flow of fluid cools the drill bit and suspends the rock cuttings produced by the drill and carries them up to the surface.
Barite is also used as a pigment in paints.
The paper used for playing cards has barite packed between its paper fibers, which allows the cards to be dealt more easily.
Barite is also used as a filler to add weight in the construction of "anti-sail" mudflaps for trucks.
Barite has a sugary appearance which sometimes leads to a misidentification, with it being mistaken as a piece of calcite or marble.
Barite is the primary ore of barium and used for x-ray shielding, which blocks x-ray and gamma ray emissions. It is used in the concrete in hospitals, power plants, and labs.
For medical testing, a patient may drink a small cup of liquid containing barium powder which will coat the patient's esophagus.
The highest production of barite takes place in China and India, followed by the United States, Morocco, Iran, Mexico, and several other countries.
The United States produces much less barite than it uses. In 2011 the U.S. imported about 2.3 million metric tons of barite but produced only about 700,000 metric tons.
Worldwide, barite is mostly used by the oil and gas industry and due to the high demand of oil and gas, the price of barium has increased over time.
A substitute for barite used in drilling mud may include celestite, ilmenite, iron ore, and synthetic hematite, but none of them perform as well as barite.

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