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  • Barite
  • Mines Producing Barite

The mineral Barite, that is often referred to as a heavy spar, has a chemical name of barium sulphate. It is the ore source of the element barium. Although it is surprisingly soft it is very heavy. It comes in a wide variety of colours ranging from being quite clear to brown, red, blue, yellow and white. It often has a white streak.

Barite is Prized by Collectors
Barite is formed in hydrothermal veins usually in conjunction with lead, silver and/or copper. It is commonly found within limestone deposits and is widespread throughout the world with some countries having specific varieties, such as the Czech Republic with its beautifully large barite crystals and the USA with its colourless crystals in California, blue crystals in Colorado and yellow barite crystals in South Dakota. The tabular barite crystals that make up the Desert Rose is one form of barite that is very popular among collectors.

A barite Desert Rose, that strikingly resembles the flower of the same name, is formed in certain locations. They derive their colours from sand inclusions and occur in beautiful rosette aggregates. Gypsum minerals can also form similar looking rose formations, however, the gypsum rose is much lighter, thinner and more brittle.

Barite has Many Industrial Uses
Barite has many uses such as that in paint manufacturing, cooling drill bits in the mining industry and because of its opaqueness, is widely used in medicine in clarifying x-ray pictures.

Barite is the only commercially viable source of barium and its various compounds with 90 percent of its world production being used in the mining industry as a weighting agent in drilling mud at gas and oil wells. It is here where its dense specific gravity is able to prevent blow-outs by containing pressure. Its other uses include the following:

  • A heavy filler in plastic, paint, rubber and special paper manufacturing
  • A barium meal to assist the medical profession better identify medical x-ray examinations because of its radiation absorbing properties
  • Enhancing the clarity of TV and optical glass
  • Producing the glaze on ceramic products.
  • South Australia is Australia's Largest Producer of Barite

    Half of the worlds barite is produced in China and South Australia is Australia largest producer contributing 10,000 tonnes a year. The biggest industrial grade barite mine in South Australia is the Oraparinna Mine 165 kilometres north east of Port Augusta. Barite at this mine is found in dolomite and sandstone deposits. Production at the Oraparinna Mine began in 1940 and is still in operation. It is made up of seven levels underground that work a system of veins containing barite that range from one to two metres wide.

    Barite can be Formed by hot Spring Water
    Barite is extremely popular with collectors because of its attractive range of colours, its crystal formations and its heavy weight that make it easily identifiable. Barite is sometimes formed as a growing calcareous mound from hot barium rich spring water. This is because the barite mineral is isomorphous with similar formation characteristics as the celestine mineral

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