Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 88
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MINERAL FACTS AND PROBLEMS, ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Barium hydroxide prevents scumming in
ceramics and is used in lubricating oils and to
recover sugar from molasses by the barium
Barium nitrate is used in green signal flares,
in primers or detonators, and in enamel.
Barium metal is a deoxidizer of copper. It
is used as a getter to remove last traces of gas
from vacuum tubes; and, because of its high
electron emission rate when subjected to an
electrical potential, it is used in alloys for spark
plugs and electron emission elements in elec-
A new use for barite, although not yet
important tonnagewise, is a mixture of finely
ground barite and synthetic rubber powder,
marketed under the trade name "Rubarite."
This material is added to asphalt and used in
road, airstrip, and parking-lot construction.
This powder is reportedly one of the most
economical and simplest ways to incorporate
rubber into hot asphalt; advantages claimed by
this surfacing material are a more flexible seal
coat and less cracking of the surface, thereby
giving longer life to the road surface.
Witherite, the natural barium carbonate, is
used in refining sugar, manufacturing of barium
chemicals, and case hardening.
BYPRODUCTS, COPRODUCTS, AND RELA-
TIONSHIPS TO OTHER COMMODITIES
One firm in New Mexico produced barite as a
byproduct of a lead operation; however, output
was small. Barite also occurs associated with
fluorspar, but up to the present time com-
mercial separation of these minerals has met
with little success. Some barite-fluorite mix-
tures do, however, find use in the glass industry.
Barite is not absolutely essential in some of
its uses. In its largest use, as a weighting agent
in drilling muds, barite is preferred over other
materials because it is clean to handle, relatively
inexpensive, nonabrasive, inert, and has a
relatively high specific gravity. During the
period 1926-43, when a royalty was charged on
the use of barite in drilling muds, celestite,
although having a lower specific gravity (3.95-
3.97), was used. It does not now compete in
this field. Some iron ores are heavier and in
about the same price range as barite; and other
than being slightly more abrasive, there seem to
be no technical reasons why they cannot be
substituted, except that they soil personnel and
equipment. Galena, with a specific gravity of
7.4 to 7.6, is much more expensive and has some
technical disadvantages. Although there
appears to be a possibility of substitution, the
use of ground barite in this application is
expected to increase.
Lithopone has competition in the pigment
field from titanium dioxide. The latter, although
higher in price, has a greater covering power
and is replacing lithopone. With prices of
crude barite increasing, the cost of finished
lithopone has also increased, thus increasing
competition from titania.
The domestic commercial reserve of barite
ore was estimated by the Federal Geological
Survey in 1958 to be about 285 million tons of
measured and indicated ore, containing about
46 million tons of barite. The inferred reserve
totals more than 365 million tons of ore, con-
taining about 67 million tons of barite. The
reserves are principally in Missouri and the
southern Appalachian States; the remainder is
in Arkansas, Nevada, and California.
The reserve of Chemical-grade barite, because
of the strict chemical and physical specifications,
is more limited than other grades, but require-
ments can more than likely be satisfied with
Complete information on foreign reserves is
lacking. The Nova Scotian reserve has been
estimated in excess of 3 million tons, and that
in the region of Camamu Bay, Brazil, in excess
of 800,000 tons.
The past few years have seen many firms
improve mining methods and initiate flotation
recovery of barite fines lost in washer opera-
tions. Recovery at the larger mines is now
quite efficient. One obvious waste of barite is
in some metal-mining operations, where barite
occurs as gangue or an associated mineral and
with few exceptions has been and is being lost.
There are no estimates of the quantity that has
been discarded to dumps or the present rate at
which it is being discarded. However, it is
believed that a substantial portion of this barite
could be recovered.
In most of its uses barite is consumed or
incorporated into the product and is not re-
coverable, the one exception being the material
used in drilling muds. In this use some of the
barite is lost in porous formations, but most is
returned to mud ponds on the surface, where it
usually is abandoned when the well is com-
pleted. Recovery of this barite is possible, but
the practice has not been widely adopted.
SOURCES OF STATISTICS
The Bureau of Mines canvasses annually the
producers of crude barite as well as producers
of crushed and ground and barium chemicals
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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/m1/96/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.