BARITE

1. Characteristics and use

Barium which is the major constituent of barite occurs in igneous rocks. It is released during their weathering and transferred in sediments and residual rocks. Barite deposits, in general, can be divided in fissure veins, replacement, residual and volcaniclastic (stratabound) deposits. World barite reserves are estimated at 303 mill. t.

Barite is widely used because of its specific properties such as whiteness, high density, chemical resistance, absorption of X-rays and gamma radiation, etc. Barite is used in glassmaking to produce special glass, in ceramic glazes, porcelain enamels, paints, plastics, fireworks (signal flares, detonators, etc.), for radiation shielding, in insecticides, etc. The major use of barite, however, is as weighting agent in well-drilling muds.

2. Mineral resources of the Czech Republic

Barite deposits of the Czech Republic belong to the vein, stockwork, metasomatic or stratabound types. These deposits are randomly distributed over the Bohemian Massif depending on a great number of barite-bearing formations of various age and origin.

Hydrothermal veins, locally with base metals, are tens to hundreds metres, exceptionally even 1 km, long, and having thickness between a few decimetres to several meters. The vein filling consisting of barite is in the form of lenses or columns. These veins are mostly confined to regional faults or faults of lower orders trending mostly NW-SE and NWN-SES which are often filled with an older quartz or quartz-hematite mineral assemblage. Locally occur younger polymetallic (base metal) and the latests quartz mineralization which downgrade the vein fillers in deeper parts (e.g. the Mackov and Bohosouvá deposits). The deposits are mostly of the early Alpine or Variscan age and to much lesser extent of Precambrian or late Alpine age. Earlier mined deposit of Pernárec (1924-1960), then the deposits Mackov, Moldava-Vápenice and Kovářská in the Krušné hory mountains, Bohousová, Harrachov and Běstvina belong to the above mentioned type of the deposit.

Stratabound barite deposits originated from submarine hydrothermal solutions ascending along the faults at sea floor. These stratiform deposits in the Bohemian Massif are represented by layers and lenses in sediments of the Barrandien zone and the Železné hory Proterozoic (Krhanice in the Sázava river basin, Křižanovice) and in the Devonian of the Jeseníky mountains (Horní Benešov, Horní Město-Skály).

A barite mineralization is known from the Květnice deposit near Tišnov in the Moravicum where barite was mined during World War II.

 

3. Registered deposits and their location in the Czech Republic

1 Běstvina

2 Bohousová

3 Harrachov

4 Křižanovice

5 Liboměřice

 

4. Basic statistical data of the Czech Republic as of December 31

Year

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Deposits - total a)

Exploited

Total reserves, kt

Economic proven

Economic probable

Subeconomic

Mining output, kt

Imports, t b)

Exports, t b)

8

0

2920

44

1407

14669

0

39964

12

8

0

2920

44

1407

1469

0

14692

10

9

0

2920

0

927

1929

0

10828

50

9

0

2920

0

927

1929

0

7993

70

6

0

1309

0

0

1309

0

9288

33

Note:
a) deposits with balanced barite content
b) item 2511 10 of the customs tariff

 

5. Prices

9 288 t of barite were imported from Slovakia (82.0%), from China (8.1%) and from Germany (4.2%) on average price of CZK 4 314 per ton in 1999. 33 t were exported to Germany (54.9%) and to Slovakia (45.1%) on average price of CZK 9 268 per ton in 1999.

 

6. Mining companies in the Czech Republic as of December 31, 1999

No mining companies were operating on the territory of the Czech Republic to extract barite in 1999.

 

7. World production

The world barite production was gradually increasing till 1990 (8,209 kt). Then the barite output declined mostly due to global economic recession which affected not only major barite consuming sectors (both crude oil and natural gas exploration) but also chemical industry. Then the barite output has been increasing till 1997 (6 930 kt). But the world barite production is expected to be on a level of 3 750 kt only in 1999. Datas by various international yearbooks are relatively different. The major producers of barite were as follows (according to the Welt-Bergbau-Daten and Mineral Commodity Summaries):

Year:

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999 e

Mining output, kt:

5052

4460

6930

5890

3750

Main producers (1998):

China

50.9%

USA

8.1%

India

7.3%

Morocco

6.0%

Iran

3.1%

 

8. World market prices

Barite prices are under pressure of surplus offer, particularly regarding the offer of cheap Chinese and Indian barite. Chinese barite acquired the leading position in world production already in the seventies being used not only in drilling muds but also in other sectors of various industries. Prices of barite of various grade and origin are quoted monthly in the Industrial Minerals magazine in GBP/t or USD/t. Average prices of traded commodities at yearend were as follows:

A  API, Chinese lump, USD/t, CIF Gulf Coast

B  API, Indian lump, USD/t, CIF Gulf Coast

C  Ground, white, paint grade, 96 - 98 BaSO4, 99 % 350 mesh, GBP/t, del UK

D  Unground, OCMA/API bulk, SG 4.2, USD/t, FOB Morocco

E  Ground, bagged, USD/t, FOB Morocco

Commodity / Year

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

A

B

C

D

E

46.50

47.50

207.50

40.00

77.50

53.50

52.50

207.50

41.00

77.50

51.50

53.50

207.50

41.00

77.50

45.00

51.00

207.50

41.00

80.00

43.00

43.50

207.50

40.00

80.00

 

9. Recycling

Barite is actually continuously recycled in drilling muds. In other applications (chemicals, paints, enamels, glass, rubber etc.) is not recycled.

 

10. Possible substitutes

Magnetite, hematite (incl. synthetic), ilmenite, celestite and other heavy minerals can be alternatively used instead of barite in drilling muds. However, it is just a marginal alternative only. Barite can be replaced by other fillers (e.g. by limestone, dolomite, soot) in production of rubber and in glassmaking partly by strontium salts, in lithopone by other whites (e.g. zinc white) etc. However, all these substitutes were found not as good as barite.