Barytes (or barite) is the naturally occurring mineral form of barium sulphate. Its main properties are its high specific gravity (4.5), very low solubility; it is non-toxic, and also chemically and physically unreactive.
It is extracted by both surface and underground mining, followed by simple physical processing methods to produce correctly sized product and to remove extraneous materials.
Barite is also a common mineral in hydrothermal veins and is a gangue mineral associated with sulfide ore veins. It is found in association with ores of antimony, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese and silver. In a few locations barite is deposited as a sinter at hot springs.
Barite is also used as a pigment in paints and as a weighted filler for paper, cloth and rubber. The paper used to make some playing cards has barite packed between the paper fibers.
Barite is the primary ore of barium, which is used to make a wide variety of barium compounds. Some of these are used for x-ray shielding. Barite has the ability to block x-ray and gamma-ray emissions. Barite is used to make high-density concrete to block x-ray emissions in hospitals, power plants, and laboratories.
The oil and gas industry is the primary user of barite worldwide. There it is used as a weighting agent in drilling mud.
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