Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 85
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By Albert E. Schr3ck I
ARITE sales increase or decrease in direct proportion to increases or
decreases in oil-well drilling activity. Although there are many uses
for barium minerals, the industry depends on the well-drilling market
for over 90 percent of its sales.
Two barium minerals serve a wide variety of
markets. The first and by far the most im-
portant is barite (BaSO4) and the other is
witherite (BaCO3). Consumption of barite has
decreased in the past 2 years, primarily due to
the decreased activity in the well-drilling
industry. Barite also is used in tIhe glass
industry and in manufacturing lithopone and
Domestic output of barite totaled about
486,000 tons in 1958. Production was centered
principally in Arkansas and Missouri with
lesser production from Nevada, Georgia,
California, South Carolina., Tennessee, and
other States. Barite is mined by both open-pit
and underground methods and at some opera-
tions is concentrated by froth flotation.
Domestic measured ana indicated reserves
of barite are estimated to total about 46
million tons; the largest reserves are in
.Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, and California.
The inferred barite reserve was estimated at
about 67 million tons.
With the upward trend in the number of oil
and gas wells being drilled and their greater
average depth, both production and consump-
tion of barite are expected to increase.
The problems of heavy dependence on a
single market, of locating additional deposits
near major consuming areas, and of maintaining
a satisfactory reserve position are of long-range
importance to the industry. Research is needed
on methods of exploring for new deposits, on
the properties of barium and its compounds,
and on recovering barite from complex ores.
The domestic barite industry dates back to
the middle of the 19th century when, in 1845,
production of barite was first reported in
Fauquier County, Va. About 5 years later,
production was begun in Missouri. In 1880
Tennessee became the third barite-producing
State; and 1901 and 1903 saw Georgia and
Kentucky, respectively, become producers.
California came into production in 1914, and in
1941 Arkansas began production of this mineral.
Barite's first use was as a filler in white
paints; however, in 1892, with the advent of
the domestic lithopone industry, a second
important market was opened. In 1908 Chicago
Copper Refining Co. (now Chicago Copper &
Chemical Co.) began manufacturing barium
chemicals at Blue Island, Ill. The first washers
and jigs used in the industry were installed in
Georgia and Tennessee in 1914-16 and in
Missouri in 1923-24. A fourth market for
barite came into existence in 1926 when a
1 Commodity specialist.
patent was obtained on the use of barite as a
weighting agent in rotary drilling muds. This
today is the largest consumer of barite. In
1941 the deposit of barite at Malvern, Ark., was
opened when Magnet Cove Barium Corp.
successfully separated barite from associated
minerals by flotation.
SIZE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE INDUSTRY
In the United States the two principal
producers of barite are the Baroid Sales
Division, National Lead Co., and Magnet Cove
Barium Corp., a subsidiary of Dresser Indus-
tries. In addition there are several other
firms that produce annually 40,000 to 100,000
tons each and numerous smaller firms that
produce several tons up to 40,000 tons annually.
The production of most of the smaller firms is
usually sold to one of the larger firms or to
There are 13 producers of barium chemicals
and 2 producers of lithopone. Of these, only
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/93/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.