Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 86
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MINERAL FACTS AND PROBLEMS, ANNIVERSARY EDITION
one firm owns its source of raw material and
the others purchase domestic or imported ore.
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF THE IN-
The two leading barite-producing States are
Arkansas and Missouri; Nevada, Georgia,
California, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mon-
tana, Idaho, and New Mexico usually contribute
the remainder of production. Occasional out-
put is reported from Washington.
Material produced in California and Nevada
is usually consumed by oil- and gas-well
drillers and barium chemical producers in
California. Production from Montana and
Idaho is consumed in northern U.S. oilfields
and some exported to Canada. Virtually all
Arkansas production and most of Missouri
production goes to midcontinent and gulf
coast well drillers. The remainder of Missouri's
production is consumed by paint, lithopone,
chemical, and glass industries in the Midwestern
and Eastern States. Southeastern barite pro-
duction is consumed primarily on the east
coast; some material goes to well drillers in
Texas and Louisiana.
In addition to the domestic deposits, barite
occurrences are widespread geographically, hav-
ing been recorded on every continent and in
every major country. The two larger domestic
producers have interests in deposits in Brazil,
Greece, Mexico, and Canada (Nova Scotia).
These firms have erected processing facilities
in Venezuela to provide drilling grade barite
for the well-drilling industry in the Lake
Some of the more important barite-producing
countries are Canada, Mexico, Greece, Peru,
West Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom,
Algeria, French Morocco, Yugoslavia, and
U.S.S.R. Small amounts of barite are pro-
duced in many other nations throughout the
Grinding plants in Texas and Louisiana
process most of the imported material, but
smaller quantities go to east coast ports for
use by chemical and glass industries.
The only commercial production of witherite
is in Northumberland, England, from where
it is exported to consuming countries.
DEFINITION OF TERMS, GRADES, AND
There are two minerals that are commercial
sources of barium and barium compounds.
They are barite, BaSO4, the principal mineral
of commerce, and witherite, BaCO3. Barite
theoretically contains 65.7 percent BaO and
34.3 SO3, and has a specific gravity of 4.5;
witherite contains 77 percent BaO and 22.3
percent CO2. Its specific gravity is 4.3. A
high specific gravity gives barite its major use
as a weighting agent in drilling muds.
The term "barite," the correct mineralogic
name, is derived from the Greek word "barys,"
meaning heavy. The mineral of commerce is
commonly referred to as "barytes"; locally in
Missouri as "tiff," and in various other localities
as "heavy spar."
Specifications for barite vary with its differ-
Drillers require the material for oil-well
drilling muds to be fine ground, heavy, and
chemically inert; consequently, barite for this
purpose must contain a minimum of 92 percent
BaSO4, be free of soluble salts, and have a
minimum specific gravity of 4.2; 90-95 percent
of the material must pass a 325-mesh screen.
Several percent iron oxide is not objectionable.
Barite for chemical manufacturing must
meet more stringent specifications. A mini-
mum of 94 percent BaSO4 with a maximum
of 1 percent each for Fe203 and strontium
sulfate and only a trace of fluorine are usually
specified. If the material is to be used for
lithopone, the SrS04 content may be somewhat
higher. Mesh size is important to chemical
producers; a material that is too fine results
in a dust loss, and if it is too coarse, in poor
mixing with carbonaceous material. A size
specification range of 4- to 20-mesh is requested
by most consumers; however, some purchase
lump barite and grind it to this specification.
Glass manufacturers usually require a mini-
mum of 98 percent BaSO4 and a maximum of
1.5 SiO2, 0.15 A1203, and 0.15 Fe203. In mesh
size a mixture ranging from 30-mesh down
through 140 is preferred. Material ground to
325-mesh is not desired because of its tendency
to ball up in the batch, but it has been used in
times of short supply. Iron is the most objec-
Specifications for barite used as a filler or in
aggregates are not so strict as those above; in
most instances mesh size is most important.
Most commercial barite deposits are of two
types: (1) Replacement, either total or partial,
of limestones, dolomites, sandstones, and shales;
and (2) residual deposits in which lumps of
barite, weathered from deposits of type 1, are
enclosed in clays. Barite also occurs as a
gangue mineral or associated mineral in metal-
liferous ores such as lead, zinc, and silver and
in mixtures of fluorspar and barite in Kentucky,
New Mexico, and elsewhere.
The Arkansas, Nevada, and California de-
posits are examples of the replacement type.
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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/m1/94/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.